By Tad Wilkes, Nightlife & Lifestyles Editor
Lucero calls its most recent album Women & Work a “love letter” to its hometown, Memphis. They’ll plug in and read that letter nice and loud at the Lyric Theatre in Oxford, Saturday, February 2.
“Having a band in Memphis puts you in a tradition,” says Lucero frontman Ben Nichols. “We started at punk rock shows, not necessarily playing punk rock, but coming from the outside, from a bohemian place.”
Women & Work is Lucero’s eighth album and presents a band 14 years in the making.
“We’re more comfortable in our own skin as a band, more comfortable acknowledging regional influences,” says bassist John Stubblefield. “We wound up making a Memphis country soul record.”
Integrating horns, pedal steel guitar, all manner of keyboards, and even a full-on gospel chorus, Women & Work draws inspiration from Delaney & Bonnie’s obscure first album, Home, on the Stax label. The band describes it as being “like Arcade Fire baptized in Joe Cocker and Leon Russell’s Mad Dogs, then warmed with Don Nix’s Alabama State Troopers.”
What does that sound like? Here’s a sample:
If you’ve never heard Lucero, I will point you to “My Best Girl” from their self-titled 2000 album as probably the best starter kit. I realize that Lucero diehards reading this may view “My Best Girl” like Widespread Panic fans view “Coconuts” or Deadheads view “Truckin'”—a song for dilettantes. But it’s what hooked me on Lucero, so I offer it here to get you addicted as well. First time’s free.