Lucero will celebrate two decades of soulful rock and ragged country with the release of their ninth album, Among the Ghosts, slated for August 3rd from Liberty & Lament/Thirty Tigers.
The first two songs released from the album, “For the Lonely Ones” and “To My Dearest Wife,” premiering on Rolling Stone Country, show the quintet discovering a fresh perspective by going back to their roots.
For a band that has come to define Memphis rock & soul over its last few albums – melding Stax-horn accents and R&B swing with guitar-driven, three-chord rock and country songs – dialing back the sounds of their beloved home city doesn’t mean backing down. Instead, Lucero hit reset for Among the Ghosts, recording live and loose at Sam Phillips Recording Service with Grammy winner Matt Ross-Spang (Jason Isbell, Margo Price) at the helm.
“For the Lonely Ones” is a barreling barroom rave-up, with upbeat, Springsteen-influenced keys and an urgent, eighth-note punk-rock bassline anchoring frontman and songwriter Ben Nichols’ rye whiskey rasp. Drummer Roy Berry pounds his floor tom relentlessly across the song, stacking up the tension before crashing into a melodic Brian Venable guitar solo.
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The song is vintage Lucero written from a new vantage, a lonely-hearts-club anthem that could play out in any dive bar in America. That’s exactly what endears the band to its fans, who pack clubs and pass shots of brown liquor to Nichols and co. at hundreds of shows every year.
Nichols shifts gears on “To My Dearest Wife,” a vivid tale of an embattled soldier accepting his uncertain fate, inspired by letters Civil War soldiers wrote to their families. The band falls in behind him one instrument at a time, transporting his heartland country strumming from a distant battlefield to a Beale Street back alley.
Nichols, a well-read history aficionado who once based an entire song cycle on Cormac McCarthy’s brutal novel Blood Meridian – the character vignettes of his desolate 2009 solo release, The Last Pale Light in the West – borrowed the song’s period-accurate refrain from the famous opening verse of “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” popularized during the Civil War.
Lucero will mark the release of Among the Ghosts at the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado, on August 3rd. The band will play select dates this month before hitting the road with Frank Turner for a summer tour beginning May 31st.