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Women & Work

by: Lucero

Album Artwork

(ATO Records)

Lucero sends a musical love letter to Memphis on their latest release Women & Work. This collection counts as the group's 8th album.

Lucero streamlines musical lineages of Memphis like Sun Records, STAX, Elvis, Jim Dickinson, Al Green, Don Nix and Alex Chilton. Frontman Ben Nichols said this about Lucero's musical roots: "Having a band in Memphis puts you in a tradition. We started at punk rock shows, not necessarily playing punk rock, but coming from the outside, from a bohemian place."

These 11 songs infuse rockabilly, soul, country, blues, and R & B into one cohesive sound. Bassist John Stubblefield mentioned recently: "We're more comfortable in our own skin as a band, more comfortable acknowledging regional influences. We wound up making a Memphis country soul record."

Work & Women showcases Lucero's new pedal steel player Todd Beane and a luminous Memphis horn section Jim Spake and Scott Thompson (Al Green, Cat Power). The album opens with a short, quiet electric intro called "Downtown" that sets the tone for this high-water mark collection of songs, which ignites the horn-laced number "On My Way Downtown".

The title track evokes a barrelhouse sentiment that inspires a soulful reckless abandon. When the band plays this song, nobody in the audience will be standing still. "It May Be Too Late" emerges as a pure gem--one of the strongest compositions on this collection...a classic downhearted ballad. The gritty, side-winding "Juniper" conjures tones of Delaney & Bonnie, and then Nichols sings: "She looks like a superhero down on her luck/Surrounded by villains...and the years are catching up." Outstanding rock & roll here folks...

A Booker T & The MGs organ-sounding intro begins "Who Are You Waitin' On". "I Can't Stand To Leave You" injects a moody darkness into the song sequence that fits perfectly in the shadows. "When I Was Young" reflects on memories, places and faces that aren't around anymore. The country-flavored "Sometimes" ranks as one of the finest tunes Lucero ever wrote...musical images evoking emotion as in the line: "And the ghosts down those empty roads all know my name..."

"Like Lightning" sounds like a jukejoint classic that Carl Perkins would love. The final track, "Go Easy", ends this album with a gospel hopefulness where faith is the only answer. Lucero's Women & Work finds the band operating in an unforgettable state of grace...

James Calemine

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