LUCERO – When You Found Me (Liberty & Lament)

When You Found MeTwelve albums in and several line-up changes along the way, but still fronted by Ben Nichols, the Memphis-based quintet (with added sax)  build on the music from his formative years for When You Found Me, a decidedly rock-driven collection of alt-country, kicking off with the chugging riff and pulsing rhythm of ‘Have You Lost Your Way’ built around the title mantra chorus as the keyboards set in and the whole thin gathers like a storm brewing with the lyrics drawing on fairytale , the  protagonist is a young girl having to face the evil that is chasing her.

They slide into a driving tempo for the tribal rhythmic pulse ‘Outrun The Moon’, another number with a young girl in peril (“It was over before he fell down/She heard them screaming run and don’t look back”) at its heart (Nichols has a young daughter), on the run, it’s hinted, for having murdered her mother’s abusive new husband.

Switching style for a strummed guitar and spooked piano desert noir country ballad ‘Coffin Nails’ is narrated by his grandfather, recalling the death of his own father in Arkansas after WWI, but still infuses it with images from myth and fairytales  in its visitation of a banshee on the night he died (“Something from the dark came down/The night John Rufus died/It landed on the window sill/And there it cried all night”) for a meditation on  mortality.

Underscored by Rick Steff’s synths and largely enfolded in a swirl of sound, ‘Pull Me Close Don’t Let Go’ takes its title from something his then three-year-old daughter said  and pretty much sums up the song’s sentiment about making it through,  then  a persistent rum thump anchors ‘Good As Gone’ which offers a different perspective on the situation in ‘Outrun the Moon’, Brian Venable igniting another blistering guitar solo.

By way of a change, ‘All My Life’ is a simple love song to the missus, albeit delivered in a Southern scorched  country style with pulsing riffs, raspy vocals and skeletal piano notes, organ taking over to underpin ‘The Match’, another storysong and again drawing on Irish folklore, here a young man lured to his doom by a witch masquerading as, first,  a doe and then a beautiful young woman, announcing herself as “the bringer of pain/For the wrongs you have done”.

Another with a thumping rock beat and driving chords,  a touch of Springsteen, Zevon and Petty in there, ‘Back In Ohio’ is based around William Morgan from Toledo who fought alongside Cuban rebels and helped them win the Cuban Revolution, only to be eventually executed by Castro.

When You Found Me ends, first, with a hint of Neil Young to the apocalyptic purging redemption vision of ‘City On Fire’  (“All the bridges are burning down/All the wells are running dry… Flames light the sky/Ashes fall like rain”) and, finally,  just acoustic guitar and piano, the title track,  a confessional thank you to his wife and, now daughter, for saving him from the path of self-destruction. Or, as his daughter calls it, “the I’m gonna be okay song”. And I think we need a few of those right now.

Mike Davies

Artists’ website:

‘Back In Ohio’ – official lyric video: