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Austin Lucas

Stay Reckless – 2013 (New West)

Reviewed by Dustin Blumhagen

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CDs by Austin Lucas

Time has shown that broken hearts and road weary songwriters make for great music. The dark lyrics of "Stay Reckless" reflect Austin Lucas' recent divorce, while the music provides support with rock tinged country sounds. Lucas has built a fan base the old fashioned way, with plenty of hours spent on highways and in dark intimate clubs. His distinctive voice evokes classic bluegrass vocalists, but he brings a bite that wasn't as prevalent on his previous releases. Backing group Glossary provide an alt.-country base and guests like Cory Brannan and Chris Scruggs (BR5-49) help to round out his sound.

Coming from a background that seems to have bred a number successful alternative country artists (Hank 3, Bob Wayne, Mike Ness, John Doe), Lucas takes the best parts of what he spent honing on the road for years and siphons it through the filter of American roots music. He slows things down on Small Town Heart, an ode to life in a rural setting, with nods to the divisions created by political allegiances. Much like fellow Revival Tour alum Chuck Ragan, who released the superb "Covering Ground" a couple of years ago, Lucas has created an album that reflects the struggles of life on the road and the loneliness that inevitably shadows the highs of being an artist in a travelling band. There is a strong focus on the voice as an instrument, which may hint at his musical pedigree. It helps to set the sound of the album apart, along with his smooth blend of folk and country history with rock and roll flourishes.

Lucas offers an ode to brotherly advice on Stay Reckless, which contrasts the ideas of wild life on the road with the comforts of a stable home and family, with an interesting "grass is always greener" twist. Album highlight Alone in Memphis provides an anthemic sad song destined to be blared in conjunction with plenty of introverted beer ingestion. The song sets the mood for the album, plenty of sorrow being sung by Lucas, but with a faint hint of brightness around the corner.

It is not a depressing listen by any means. Instead Lucas has crafted an album to listen to when feeling nostalgic about lost love. The smile when thinking of the good times, with the dull ache of the loss balanced perfectly over stereo speakers. The time spent on the road, travelling across North America on various tours has helped push Lucas art to the next level on his most accomplished recording to date.