The stars have certainly aligned for Lucero on this, their ninth album. It marks their 20th year as a band and was recorded by Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price, Drive-By Truckers) at the auspicious Sam Phillips Recording Service studio in their hometown of Memphis. Most importantly, it stands tall as one of their strongest releases to date.
Ostensibly an alt-country band, Lucero have always soaked their music in the sound of their native Tennessee, from the tumbling bar-room piano to their use of rousing and emotive horns. The South resonates more than ever on Among The Ghosts, particularly in the storytelling of Ben Nichols who takes a less-personal approach and sings of battlefields, ghosts and crimes with the same graphic and poetic grace of Drive-By Truckers and iconic chroniclers of Southern gothic fiction such as Flannery O’Connor and William Faulkner.
Nichols’ voice continues to take centre-stage with his inimitable, weathered growl adding grit and tone to his tales of characters and misfortune. The band support his stories perfectly, rising to the occasion with urgent Southern rock (‘Among The Ghosts’) and soulful textures (‘Loving’). There are classic Springsteen elements in their sound as well as a more contemporary War On Drugs palette of guitar effects and the occasional metronomic rhythm of songs such as ‘Bottom Of The Sea’. It all amounts to an engaging, thrilling and wholly rewarding new chapter in the book of Lucero.