This review should have come out a good few days earlier, but, in true Lucero style, I spent my time drinking as much as humanly possible, and watching a lot of good live music. Perhaps not the most professional approach, but I’m sure the boys would understand. Women & Work is the ninth (if you include The Attic Tapes) full length album from, Memphis’ heavy drinking Southern Punks, Lucero, and it’s arguably their best yet.
The first thing I noticed, when I took to some nearby woodland areas to walk around and listen to this album, was just how goddamn incredible the production is. Once again, Ted Hutt was behind the desk during the whole process and he has brought the best out of the band. Whether it be the crisp acoustic guitars on ‘Who You Waiting On?’ (a song which, kind of strangely, is reminiscent of a Jack Johnson track. Ya know, if JJ drank bourbon and scotch daily and wasn’t a massive pansy) or how he brings forward the bass on ‘I Can’t Stand To Leave You’ (a real old school sounding Lucero song) and utilizes the E.Q to perfection, giving the bass a full chunky sound which echoes the sombre subject matter.
With that said, Women & Work doesn’t do much really in terms of progression in this sense. They seem content in sticking with usual topics such as, well, women, work and whiskey, but Lucero tackle these points so well it’d seem insane to waste their talent on anything else.
To say Ben Nichols’ vocals were in any way mellifluous probably wouldn’t be apt, but with each release he progresses significantly and, arguably, has done so more with W&W than ever before. He’s taken a much more soulful approach to his tonality, whilst still maintaining the synonymous whiskey soaked, gravely tones that make him one of the most open and genuine singers in the ‘punk’ scene.
Musically the band seem to have let the country elements to their music fall by the way side a little, with the exception of certain songs such as ‘When I Was Young’. Instead, they have adopted more of a R n’ B/Rock n’ Roll feel, employing these influences to create a much more upbeat Lucero sound.
Lucero used to be the band I’d turn to in hard times of depression, locking myself away, sitting in the darkness, whilst working through a bottle of cheap whiskey. Now they’re the band that push me to unlock my doors, get out into the light…whilst still drinking a shit load of whiskey.