Lucero’s Women & Work is the band’s first release for ATO Records and eighth overall. From the very onset of the album you will notice a distinct difference with this album from previous albums. Most noticeably, the introduction of keys and a horn section that has morphed Lucero’s gruff feel into a blues and Americana influenced excursion. I wasn’t ever the biggest Lucero fan in the world, but I was an astute enough of a drinker to have more than a passing familiarity with them. Perhaps, and only perhaps, I am the only person who noticed that Lucero has always had noticeable and almost prominent undertones of classic Americana in their music. Even if it was hidden under a “punk-rock” exterior. Hailing from Memphis Tennessee, it’s not hard to imagine how that might be the case. In that respect, this album isn’t all that much different from earlier releases. Many of the themes are familiar. As Ben Nichols puts it, “You work all week, thinking about women and the weekend… ‘Downtown’ is Friday night, ‘Go Easy’ is Sunday morning. The rest of the record is the party in between.” This record is a weekend long party, full of the emotional ups and downs many of Hogtown are plenty familiar with.
After a brief introduction, “Downtown,” the album begins in earnest with “On My Way Downtown.” This track is brimming with equal parts optimism, mischief and camaraderie, the perfect 5:01 Friday afternoon anthem for the huddled masses. With the force that all the separate parts hit you right out of the gate, this track is the first moment you realize this isn’t going to be a reprisal of past material. In fact, this is where you realize this is going to be a very lively album. That frantic pace makes its way through to “It May Be Too Late,” where things slow down and heed directly to that moment late Friday night when you have that fleeting moment of clarity, yet something compels you to ignore it. Well, if “It May Be Too Late” is the moment of clarity, then “Juniper: and “Who You Waiting On?” are the blind leaps into the foray. With lines from “Who You Waiting On?” like “Honey, I’m begging you please, just walk away. I’m all yours, you see. Ain’t no need to wait. We could burn this whole town down. All right,” it’s clear this album is a roller coaster of competing emotions put to your typical weekend’s soundtrack. “When I Was Young” is a sorrowful and longing examination of the path that has brought you out for the weekend but leaves you wondering when it will come crashing down around you, on a Saturday morning. The album’s conclusion, “Go Easy” is almost a Southern Baptist style spiritual that is a perfect winding down from an exhausting, uplifting, introspective and frantic whirlwind one may be familiar with at the conclusion of an extensive weekend.
At times, this album is actually quite upbeat by Lucero’s standards and only someone who doesn’t know how to have any fun on a Friday night would scoff at what these troubadours present here with Women & Work. According to the band’s website, “Women & Work… is such an exciting presentation of the band’s eclectic explorations that makes their 14-year meandering path appear to be a straight line to this very record.” You can decide for yourself Saturday May 26th at Double Down Live. Tickets are $17 in advance and $20 day of the show. There is also a $2 service fee for all under 21 years of age that is collected at the door. Doors open at 9pm. “I’ll be waiting for you downtown.”