Lucero- Nobody’s Darling’s (East-West)

The Arts — By on August 12, 2005 at 4:27 pm

“We ain’t nobody’s darlings,” claim Lucero on their fourth and latest record, but that may be about to change. Fans of the almighty rock & roll spirit should find plenty to like here- think Steve Earle fronting The Replacements and you might be getting the scent. Recorded in Memphis and produced by Memphis music mainstay Jim Dickinson (who produced Pleased To Meet Me for The Replacements themselves back in ’87), Nobody’s Darlings reeks of booze, cigarettes, and overheated amplifiers. The opening 1-2 punch of “Watch It Burn” and “Anjalee” set the tone with loud, dirty guitars, crashing cymbals, and singer/songwriter Ben Nichols’ red-faced rasp. Alas, the quality of the remaining songs is a bit more hit-and-miss, and the limited palate of two guitars/drums/bass might make you long for some piano, Hammond organ, or harmonica to add some more color, but you do get the sense that the whole thing would really rock live (Speaking of which, tales of drunken on-stage mayhem seem to follow Lucero everywhere they go… kind of like the aforementioned ‘Mats.).

In fact, Nobody’s Darlings seemed destined for a 7 rating, but the final song pulls it up a whole point. Written from the standpoint of a not-so proud World War II veteran, “The War” is quite possibly the best song ever written about war’s effect on the individual. Accompanied only by his acoustic guitar, Nichols gives us a different slant on WWII, and tells of how he made sergeant in the military, but quickly got “busted back to private again” because “takin’ orders never suited me, and givin’ them out was much worse.” If Nichols & company can keep branching out in directions like this, they may find themselves an audience just as rabid and large as The Replacements had in their day.

RATING (1-10): 8

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