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Lucero

All a Man Should Do – 2015 (ATO)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Lucero

You'd think Lucero would be bigger than they are now. After all, with a dozen albums to their credit and 15 years of roadwork behind them, they've certainly paid their dues any way you look at it. It's been nearly 10 years since their story was spotlighted in the documentary "Dreaming in America," a film that provided an unblemished look at what life is like for a hard working band whose only reward is the joy of playing before appreciative fans, and yet wider recognition still eludes them.

Of course, there may have been some handicap involved in having a handle that's easily confused with a Latin act of the same name, and a leader, Ben Nichols, who's known to take an occasional solo sojourn. Regardless, "All A Man Should Do" shows their full potential realized, courtesy of a rugged, raspy, swaggering set of songs that pull no punches while reflecting a certain vulnerability as well.

Nichols' coarse vocals set the tone, but on songs such as the tattered "Baby Don't You Want Me," the remarkably rousing "Can't You Here Them Howl" and the rocking and riveting "Young Outlaws," the band's reckless abandon shines through. Nevertheless, it's in those moments of remorse and reflection - the affecting cover "I'm In Love With A Girl" (featuring surprise backing vocals from Big Star's Jody Stephens, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow), the wanton and weary "I Woke Up In New Orleans" and the tender, touching "My Girl And Me in '93" - that the true soul of Lucero is fully revealed. For all their ragged edges and a spirited Memphis mentality, this is a band whose soulful depths have been fully mined.

"All A Man Should Do" is the culmination of all Lucero's years of paying their due, finding them clawing out the attention they so decidedly deserve. There could be no finer testament to both defiance and determination that the exceptional effort offered herein.