Lucero - Among the Ghosts (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Among the Ghosts (2018)

Liberty and Lament

I never understood why people refer to Lucero as country-punk. First of all, the term for a combination of country and punk is generally cowpunk, but people insist on calling Lucero country-punk instead. But I’ve never heard any punk in Lucero’s music anyway. Maybe a little bit in the rhythm section, but never enough to call them an actual punk act. Maybe alt country or even indie country, especially on some of their early work like That Much Further West, but then an album like 2012’s Women & Work is virtually indistinguishable from the sort of pop country heard on a country or top 40 radio station.

Among the Ghosts
, true to its title, is more of a —to borrow a term from a recent Internet meme—cowgoth album. That’s not to say that there are no upbeat moments or pop hooks, but the general tone is moody and atmospheric. The biggest problem with the album is that it’s one of those albums where the first track (the album’s title track) is so good that it makes it hard to move past track one. The opening track’s late refrain of “We got married down in Texas, in Texas” will leave you thinking “Okay this is alright but can we go back to that first song, because that was fire!” as you try to move on through the album. Really, the rest of the album plays like a pale echo of that first song.

The lowest point of the album comes in the form of a song called “To My Dearest Wie,” a cloying story of a soldier writing back home to his wife and child. It’s a type of story that I’ve heard too many times to care, and Lucero does absolutely nothing to make a very old story new again. That’s the cardinal sin of Among the Ghosts: even if it’s a style that Lucero doesn’t often play with, moody country is barely a new invention, and Lucero doesn’t do anything to reinvent it.