If there’s an adjective that could unarguably be used to describe Memphis-based country/punk rock band, “Lucero” it certainly is “hard-working.” They have played 150 to 200 shows a year since 2001 across the United States and Canada. They also have released 10 full length albums, and have recently released their first EP entitled “Texas & Tennessee.” It’s worth noting that this is the second time the band has referenced Tennessee in the title of one of their releases, as their 2002 release was entitled “Tennessee.” In Texas & Tennessee, the band mostly abandons the electric guitar and punk influence in order to create a more Americana influenced record.
In general, Lucero’s newest release feels flat and uninspired. They have taken a step in an entirely different direction in this release, and unfortunately it seems that they are taking multiple steps backward. The album contains 4 sub-five-minute songs that feature near insufferable vocals that are so forced it almost sounds like a parody. It doesn’t seem as though the vocals are sincere, and the tone is gruff and incommunicable. If it wasn’t for the vocals standing out as being so unpleasant, there would be absolutely nothing in most of these songs that pop out as anything different, original, inspired, creative, or in any way worth spending any time on. The repetitive and unimaginative guitar line on “Union Pacific Line” takes away any dynamic the song may have otherwise. The mixing and production on “Breathless Love” is so flat it takes any breath and power away from the track that it might have otherwise. The brass instrumentation suggests this track to be the big showtime song on the album, but as on most of the songs, there’s always something to keep them from being pleasurable whether it be the vocals, production, or instruments. On “The Other Side of Lonesome,” the only track that features electric guitar, the guitar sound is so bare and the lines are so meandering and directionless it causes the track to have the same fate as the others.
The prolific nature of the band is highly respectable, regardless of the content of their recent release. That being said, it is good that this is an EP and not a proper full length release, since the band seems to have a certain spark that’s missing in this release. It’s worth mentioning that the bare and raw production style works much better on their self-titled release. There is a sincerity that is missing in this release, however, so if anybody is starting to get into the band, this is certainly not the release to start from.