It was a stormy morning and unusually dark for that time of the day. I was sitting in the passenger seat of Jake’s car and making jokes about his seatbelt pads. The clouds were thick and visibility was for shit. Now none of this would deter Jake from driving like a madman so outside of the jokes I mostly set my jaw and prayed that the airbags would save me when we plummeted off of an overpass. I thin I should mention that Jake was an excitable kid who loved his music despite have questionable taste therein so when he turned around, almost completely, to grab a CD that he just had to play for me I thought that I was going to die right then and there and the only saving grace would be that he might be able to get the CD in to the player before we hit the retaining wall and the music wouldn’t suck. Some god somewhere must’ve been smiling on us because not only didn’t we die the CD Jake was willing to risk our lives to put in to the CD player was That Much Further West by some dudes from Memphis that called themselves Lucero. I didn’t even notice how many more times we almost died on the way to work that day. From the opening notes of that album I was hooked for life.
Every word of that story is the truth and to this day I am die hard Lucero fan even though I have lost touch with Jake through the years. What that day eventually led to is what you see here, these words, me being a writer for 9B. It was on the Lucero message board that I met our benevolent dictator, Autopsy IV, and from there ended up writing for this little corner of the web. So in a way the whole damn reason I am opining for music in our little joint here is result of being a Lucero fan. All of this proves nothing more than I am biased and likely the last person that should be reviewing Women & Work. To this I say: Fuck it!
As far as I am concerned all of Lucero’s catalog is drinkin’ music and this one is no different except that it is. It is different in the same way that every Lucero album is different from its predecessor. These boys have managed to grow and evolve with each album and on this one they go back from whence they came and pay tribute to Memphis soul. The horns take more of the forefront than they did on 1372 Overton Park throughout much of the album. If you didn’t like Overton then you will likely hate Women & Work and if that’s the case then as far as I am concerned you can die in a fire! I wouldn’t piss on you to put it out.
For me most of Lucero’s work has been more suited for drinking by myself while alone and up too late but starting with Overton and continuing on to W&W the music has taken me out on Saturday nights to find the crowds and live it up. Of course that’s oversimplifying things but I think it gets the point across. You see Lucero is a bit of an anomaly in that they have grown their sound, grown their band, maintained their core members and still sound like, well, themselves. It’s not just the band that’s grown, in sound and size, but also the writing. It seems Ben is writing from a different place than before. There’s more confidence in the lyrics. I am not quite sure that captures the entirety of what I mean but it’ll have to do. The songs are still about girls and drinkin’ but they are from another side of that same coin. It’s harder to explain than I thought it’d be so I’ll just give up and trust that you, the listener, can spin this one, nod a little bit, and think to yourself: “now I know what that bastard was talking about!”
Getting down to brass tacks Women & Work is Essential Listening, but you knew that already. What makes this such a great album is its depth. It’s not just Memphis soul, although the influence is clear throughout. It’s not just another Lucero album even though it very much is. It’s not just the soundtrack to an amazing night out, but is just that. It’s not just proof that Lucero has held their own for nine albums and fourteen years. It’s all of that and more. You know, thinking about this, I could have just said, “This is a Lucero album”, and it would have covered all of that. You see I am a fanboy when it comes to these guys and I am unashamed by that. And yes W&W is that damned good. So get off your ass and get yourself a copy.