If there are two things that the veteran road dogs in Lucero know, it’s women and work. Love them or hate them, the Memphis natives have been one of the hardest working bands of the last 10 years—on tour significantly more days than they are not—and from the seemingly countless number of songs frontman Ben Nichols has penned about bad love, women have clearly played some major roles in those long days and late nights.
While these have been familiar jumping off points throughout the band’s career, sonically they continue their departure—which began with 2009’s 1372 Overton Park—from sparse country-punk to a more lush, soulful rock ‘n’ roll band. Women is awash in pedal steel, organ chords, horns, and even, on closer “Go Easy”, a backing gospel choir. Aesthetically, these various elements work best on the jangly “Women & Work” and the driving “On My Way Downtown”, with the latter finding Nichols trying to convince a girl to come downtown for a drink and a dance. It’s a vintage Nichols sentiment—let’s have fun tonight and worry about tomorrow in the morning.
But as in real life, all that partying eventually leads to some pretty dark mornings, and Women has no shortage of somber moments. “When I Was Young” deals with the perils of getting older over a cyclical, arpeggiated riff, and “It May Be Too Late” is a honky-tonk ballad sung from an empty bar, as the narrator drinks and waits on a girl to save him. These moments are some of Lucero’s most affecting; it’s hard to accuse this band of being anything but earnest and authentic, but as in real life, the party songs are more fun than the hangover.
Essential tracks: “On My Way Downtown” and “Women & Work”