Lucero’s new album Women and Work is yet another step in the evolution of one of the great country/rock bands in recent memory. It is pretty much a natural step from their last album 1372 Overton Park. As the title implies, it is a solid set of songs about women and work. The horn section from Overton Park is back and maybe even more entrenched into the band’s sound at this point. Ben Nichols vocals to me are missing that raspy hard night of drinking and smoking feel that have become customary. Not that it ruins the album or is a bad thing. It is just different from how Lucero normally feels.
Some of Women and Work even lost the rock edge in exchange for a bluesier feel, sometimes even a classic rock vibe. With a horn section that gives hints of a Van Morrison and a more prominent organ that that gives you just a splash of The Band, it might not sound totally like a Lucero album the whole time. But as you get deeper into the album past what might feel like a new direction for some listeners, you start to hear that gravelly voice that you thought was gone. Tracks like “I Can’t Stand to Leave You” and “When I Was Young” bring you back to the Lucero of That Much Further West and Nobody’s Darlings a bit while still holding on to the new sound of this album in them.
This album is a natural step in the bands progression since they first started putting out hand made CDs so many years ago. If you haven’t listened to the band evolve over the past few albums or haven’t tried out 1372 Overton Park before, you might feel it is a big difference in sound. But don’t let your knee jerk reaction judge the album for you. Give Lucero’s Women and Work a chance to settle in before making drastic choices and jumping to conclusions about it. It, like a hard night of drinking, is more of a marathon than a sprint.