Austin Lucas – Stay Reckless (New West Records)
Vinyl, CD, Digital Download
Rumour has it that Austin Lucas was taught how to sing by his musician father Robert Lucas before he could even speak. Well, Last.fm has it that way anyhow. Here’s our review of his latest album.
My love for Austin Lucas is no big secret. When I first heard Somebody Loves You I listened to it religiously. I also forced others to listen to it. I became the head preacher in the church of Austin and stuck the album on at parties until everyone there either agreed that the guy was a great singer or went home to bed because they were far too depressed to carry on.
….I don’t get invited to many parties these days.
In some bizarre Orwellian twist a record has appeared that combines one of my favourite singers ever and my new favourite band. Just the other day I said to a friend “Glossary’s Long Live Us All is the best record that’s come out in the past few years”. That friend wasn’t Austin Lucas but he must have been listening in, à la Big Brother, as he’s decided to have Glossary as the backing band of his new record.
But, as the saying goes, two wrongs don’t make it a right, and two rights don’t always make a right either. Think back about a decade when The Misfits line-up consisted of Jerry Only, Dez Cadena, and whichever member of the Ramones were somehow still alive. It stunk and made me take a lifelong vow to never watch the band live. Fortunately, this particular “super-band” combination is not only acceptable, but pretty damn awesome.
Probably because, even though opener ‘Let Me In’ and also ‘So Much More Than Lonely’ are tinged with Glossary influence, this is still wholly an Austin Lucas record. The songs are the same haunted country songs, led by the dulcet melodies emanating from the mouth of this Indiana born tortured soul, telling tales of long nights on the road and constant heartache. ‘Rings’ is the perfect example of the latter, being a blow by blow account of the collapse of the singers marriage, and lends very much to songs off the aforementioned Somebody Loves You such as ‘Singing Man’ (in fact I’d assume that this song is about the same lady).
Much in the same way as A New Home In The Old World, the addition of a full band backing in this record switches some of the innocence of the early days for a more aggressive feel. Yet Austin still can’t avoid the fact that he is one of the most sensitive songwriters of our time. The phrase “wearing your heart on your sleeve” seems to have been created specifically for this man. Penultimate track ‘Gift And A Gamble’ proves this beautifully with the singer attempting to focus on the positives of what must be a life of uncertainty, “Everyday is a blessing, a gift and a gamble…you can’t know what’s coming, the way an old horse knows his saddle.”
Every time I listen to Austin Lucas I feel an influx of conflicting emotions. A mix of sorrow, happiness, indignation, appreciation and envy. It takes a great songwriter to tug the listener in all directions and there’s very few who can do it as well as this man, and even less who can do it consistently on record after record. It’s been over four years since I first saw Austin play a shitty pub’s basement in Leeds and he hasn’t failed at achieving this graceful struggle, on and off record, yet.
All words by Ian Critchley. More writing by Ian on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.