Always Be True is Luke's follow up album to 2014's acclaimed release You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense. Whereas his debut record focused more on his gentler, intimate singer-songwriter side, his new release reveals a wider scope in terms of sound, subject and performance.
The accompanying press release talks of influences from Steve Earle, Tom Petty and Uncle Tupelo whilst I can also hear the lovely alt-country resonances of his former band, The Whybirds, with whom Luke sang and played drums. I had the pleasure of seeing the band several times a few years ago when they were playing the Bedford Esquires venue and surrounding circuits.
The ten songs here are all Luke Tuchscherer originals and along with himself on vocals, guitars and even drums on a couple of tracks, a fine cast of musicians lend their talents with additional drums, percussion, electric guitar, dobro, pedal steel, bass, mandolin, organ, piano, accordion and Wurlitzer.
The album was produced, recorded and mixed by Tom Peters at The Den studio in Bury St Edmunds and is, I believe, Luke's first release on the Clubhouse Records label.
Opening track Waiting For My Day To Come comes in on a chunky acoustic guitar part before Luke's vocal tells us 'I've been running myself ragged all over this land, waiting for my day to come'. Another couple of lines as the band slowly enter before they kick off full tilt at around fourty five seconds. From then on in it really reminded me of all things Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band with its ensemble feel, blue-collar passion and indignation. Luke's voice is a perfect foil for this music, sturdy, honest with a bit of husk and all in all, a great opening track. Don't Put Me Out follows and is one of two songs that feature the original Whybirds line up. This is another band feel song and rattles through very sweetly with a light, spacey texture that conjures up images of big cars sweeping across empty landscapes.
Track three These Lonesome Blues is a slightly slower but deceptively jaunty song with a hook that belies its lyrical content, 'I can't seem to shake these lonesome blues, Hovering round my head like a hangman's noose'. In part, it sounds like the alt-country cousin of Noel Gallagher's Half The World Away, which is meant as a compliment by the way! Outside, Looking In is perhaps my favourite song here, shuffling in on a great drum track that remains in the forefront of the mix throughout, supported by some lovely, discrete instrumentation. It also boasts evocative, strong lyrics and a great vocal from Luke, which at times has so much reverb and crackle he sounds like archetypal Johnny Cash circa his Rick Rubin era.
I have listened to this album a lot since its arrival a couple of weeks ago and the standard of these opening tracks is maintained throughout and the whole record strengthens with repeated plays When The Dream Dies is a courtly, seven minute thirty second musical workout, whilst Be True is almost the opposite, a good time, drum clattering hoedown that's in and out at well under three minutes.
Other stand out tracks are the beautifully piano led Love Don't Come Easy, which to my mind showcases Luke's best vocal and No One Did It Like Us that occupies more mainstream country territory to very good effect and was made to be played on the radio.
This is a very good album, full of strong, commercial songs, performed brilliantly by all involved. The playing throughout is exceptional and the recording captures this in all its warmth and immediacy. In particular, I especially like how the pedal steel, organ and piano decorate and dress the songs. I am not sure how much, if any, was recorded in a 'live take' way, but this record really does have a strong, tight 'engine room' feel running through its core.
Luke's Always Be True is not just a fine addition to the UK Americana scene but also a fine addition to any contemporary music scene and deserves to be heard way beyond the confines of any musical genre. I thoroughly recommend it.
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