Luke Tuchscherer. Always Be True. Clubhouse Records

a2490739415_16With The Whybirds, Luke Tuchscherer’s drumming “day job,” winding themselves up (final dates here here) Tuchscherer returns to his solo career following up his fine debut You Get So Alone At Times It Just Makes Sense from 2014. That album saw Tuchscherer named second best UK artist by Americana UK at the end of that year with the disc also reaching second place in the best album category. Three years on and he’s back with an album that is just a little bit more upbeat than its predecessor which owed much to the late Townes Van Zandt’s world weariness. Tuchscherer himself says, “I’m very proud of the first album and I was absolutely blown away with the reception it got, but as a performer, I found that I didn’t always want to play some of those songs live. A lot of those tracks only lend themselves to “sit down and shut up” venues, which I love playing, but they’re often hard to find! I wanted to make an album where I could play pretty much every song live – no matter the gig.”  Mind you, it’s not a bundle of laughs as Tuchscherer still injects an emotional heft into the songs, the almost sing-along jaunt of These Lonesome Blues barrels along with some jollity but it’s really all about him waiting for his old friend, the blues, to come calling.

There’s a lengthy cast list in the musician credits here but essentially Tuchscherer has assembled a crack team who purvey a fine country rock sound that can be acoustically snappy as on the Dobro driven Be True ( with BJ Cole on the Dobro) or glowering as the guitars are plugged in. At times it’s simply sublime; the swirling kaleidoscope of guitars (acoustic, electric, pedal steel) and keyboards on the yearning Amanda Jane is almost hypnotic while the cascading piano and guitars of Love Don’t Come Easy remind one of the Jayhawks at their best. Much of the album actually recalls the “new wave” of “alt country” acts who sprang up in the 1990’swith the first two songs (Waiting For My Day To Come and Don’t Put Me Out) quite propulsive, not as hard scrabbled as Uncle Tupelo but sharing that sense of tying up old time Americana with country rock and a post punk attack.  Don’t Put Me Out in particular is eminently listenable, a jangled pop song with honeyed pedal steel.

Tuchscherer hits the heights however with two songs that hark back to the seventies. The superb Outside Looking In, is a diatribe which is half disdainful, half self pitying as he gazes in at the other half, at the “total pricks talking shit in fancy dress.” The song itself is in fancy dress, a glorious conglomeration of pedal steel fuelled LA disdain somewhat akin to Gene Clark’s sumptuous Some Misunderstanding from No Other. When The Dream Dies is a seven-minute reverie ridden with curling, chunky and sinewy guitars slipping in between a series of vignettes of death and loss. This sense of loss closes the album as Tuchscherer sings the simplest of songs here, a rippling acoustic tribute to a dead friend on the touching A Song For Jack Brown.

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