Since their formation in the late 90’s, Memphis’ Lucero have subtly evolved, moving from alt country to cowpunk to southern rock to Memphis soul, and numerous points in between. On their 2018 album Among the Ghosts, the group delved into a moodier Southern gothic arena, and on their latest opus When You Found Me, they have used that jumping off point to return to a more straight-ahead rock sound that incorporates all of the influences and styles that have populated their previous records.
The darker atmosphere of Among the Ghosts carries over to When You Found Me‘s first track “Have You Lost Your Way”. The opening of the loose narrative following the album’s heroine, lead singer Ben Nichols‘ voice takes on a commanding presence as the girl’s story unfolds, being left alone and riding “a horse through the storm in the black night”. Paired with the enigmatic drums, the track ties back well to their last album, while also preparing listeners for the music to come.
First single “Outrun the Moon” continues the story with a classic southern rock fashion. The guitars take center stage, with power riffs adding muscle to Nichols’ macabre imagery (“Cigarette smoke in the neon/There must’ve been a hundred shades of red”). There are some 80’s touches, like the Seger-esque piano and haunting mid tempo chorus. There’s some similar inspirations on “Good as Gone”, with synth-led production elements, but the big rocking chorus is classic Lucero, with slick lines like “Being good as gone ain’t good enough now” which crowds will be singing back to the band with hands in the air.
The album still has a few more quieter songs, such as the plaintive folk track “Coffin Nails” (another inspired by Nichols’ family, and a proper follow-up to their classic “The War”), the emotional spacey ballad “Pull Me Close Don’t Let Go”, and the vulnerable, romantic title track (a true Lucero sad song classic), but the majority of the songs here are loud, guitar-driven heavy hitters. The ominous “All My Life” is the soundtrack of a storm rolling over empty western plains, while “The Match” has a barroom country swagger that could play well in a redneck saloon or at Stagecoach.
The album’s stand-out track is “Back in Ohio”. Mixing power-punk Replacements guitar riffs, rollicking piano and Warren Zevon-inspired lyrics, the track is bound to be a fan favorite. Paired with the anthemic drone-rock of “A City on Fire”, and you might think the band is gunning for a chance to open for Def Leppard or Warrant. They’ve truly bridged the gap between a number of genres here, making an album that is far more accessible than Among the Ghosts while not retreating from it’s murkier elements.
The album drops on January 29th, and you can preview the pre-released tracks below!