Lucero pushing against bounds of country

Why is it that many of the best country bands aren't considered country?

Take Lucero.

Granted, the Memphis sextet has plenty of rock 'n' roll swagger and punk bluster powering their hardscrabble honky tonk swing.

But then again, country has never been narrowly defined - Hank Williams' hillbilly boogie helped birth rockabilly and Merle Haggard's repertoire has long bore a distinct blues influence, just to name a few artists who don't fit inside any carefully drawn lines.

And so we'd count Lucero among country music's finest even if they push hard against the bounds of that sound as most great bands of any genre tend to do.

Lucero's latest record, "Women & Work," their second with a horn section, is the sound of a juke joint's foundation quakin' on an endless Saturday night.

"I'm playing too fast and thinking too slow," frontman Ben Nichols sings on the title cut, encapsulating the prevailing sentiment of the album, which swings from the kind of tomorrow-be-damned jams that get folks moving the tables in bars so that they've got more room to dance to equally wistful and world weary ballads meant to soothe the next day's hangover.

The last tune on the disc is a reassuring send-off called "Go Easy," which is some advice that these dudes never seem to heed.

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@ or 702-383-0476.


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