Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
A refreshing change in the sound for Lucero. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of their material over their long career. Having said that, I like variety. I also enjoy seeing the evolutionary process of the artist. As I have said before, it is not sustainable for an artist to keep making the same album over and over. There are a few exceptions to this rule (Son Volt and The Ramones come to mind), but even the artists don’t want to just stagnate and not strive for musical growth.
There is a risk in growth and experimentation, especially for an established act like Lucero. What if the public doesn’t like it? What if the material isn’t any good? These are all valid concerns that any performer or band would confront during the making of a new album. Lucero laid down a heavy bet with this style departure, but they won. Yes, the album is very, very good. “Among The Ghosts” is definitely a progression from 2016’s “All A Man Should Do” on ATO Records. The music is similar, but “Among The Ghosts” has less growl in the vocals.
For those of you that like the grit and gravel that is Lucero’s trademark, fear not. There are still some anthemic songs on this collection that will surely be part of the lexicon, going forward. One such ditty is Everything Has Changed (Track 3). This song is beautiful and has it all: great lyrics, strong vocals, and a rich musical tapestry draped in the background. Although a bit understated, there is plenty of attitude and aggression. There are also some crackling guitar solos that give this song an extra boost of energy.
Ben Nichols’ growl does reveal itself prominently on Cover Me (Track 5). What is different on this track is the instrumentation. The heaviness of years past has been replaced with some more air and space,which gives the song a feeling of lightness that is very refreshing. They are using more reverb and delay and less volume and distortion. This really opens up the possibilities for Lucero in the future.
Back To The Night (Track 9) is one of those songs that provide a slow consistent burn that could scorch you, if you aren’t careful. The focal point of this song is the spoken word piece in he middle of the composition. I am usually not a fan of spoken word soliloquies in songs, but there are exceptions to the rule. Back To The Night is definitely an exception. That spoken word part is as chilling as it is pristine.
This is a great album to celebrate Lucero’s 20 years as a unit. “Among The Ghosts” marks some very important milestones in Lucero’s history. Besides the 20 year anniversary, this is their ninth studio album and their first with Thirty Tigers. Lucero also has a new PR Firm, All Eyes Media. To those hard core Lucero fans that may be on the fence about this offering, allow me to provide some advice: celebrate the old and embrace the new.