If you’re looking for an album that just about sums up the state of Americana these days then look no further. Austin Lucas has a punk background but grew up in a folk and bluegrass loving family.Ttiring of screaming his lyrics over a blitzkrieg of sound he returned to his roots and forged a fine amalgam of country and rock over a series of albums. Stay Reckless finds Lucas ensconced in the mighty bosom of New West Records which should offer him a fair degree of exposure. To top it all he’s blessed enough to have the services of Glossary, one of the finer exponents of the genre these days to hand catapulting this album into a contender for the year end top ten.
The album’s a captivating mixture of light and shade, hard driving country rock and choke worthy country ballads with Lucas’ tremulous voice, shades of Jay Farrar and George Jones flitting in and out, tying it all together. His duets with Glossary’s Kelly Knieser in particular tear and jerk at the heartstrings while he drives the harder numbers with authority. The band meanwhile are more than able to slam headfirst into the turbo charged punk fuelled maelstrom that is So Much More Than Lonely and then down clutch to deliver the wistful country flow of Four Wheels. Todd Beene’s pedal steel work in particular shines throughout the album but there are some exhilarating guitar duels with Joey Knieser with Small Town Heart standing out.
Lucas wrote much of this album in the wake of a divorce and this is reflected in some of the lyrics with Rings being the premier example. Lucas starts off with a solo lament before a sympathetic pedal steel whirls overhead. A restrained fiddle and some halting harmonies from Kelly Knieser add to the melancholic feel. It’s an excellent song given a wonderful delivery and perhaps the standout here despite tough competition from the miniature epic that is Save It For Yourself and the Waylon inspired toughness of Different Shade of Red. All in all an excellent listen.