Review: Austin Lucas’ “Immortal Americans” Glorifies a Better Tomorrow


Austin Lucas’ new release Immortal Americans (Cornelius Chapel Records) was co-produced with Will Johnson (Jason Isbell, Patterson Hood, Jim White)  and recorded completely to analog in Steve Albini’s Chicago studio: Electrical Audio.  The album was recorded with band members, including Lucas’ dad Bob Lucas (Alison Krauss), all playing live together at once.

If you give it a chance, this album will invite you to pull up a chair, sit down and then it’ll hypnotically overtake you in to listen from start to finish, which is a welcome rarity these days.  If you don’t treat it like simple background music to your next big barbecue it’ll reward you in spades.  Opening vocal tracks delivered crisp and clearly on the title track will draw you in for a nostalgic dance including “Sha-la-la goes the rattle and hum from the hearth of a Mid Western home…that’s the sound of immortal Americans,” and images of predictable familiarity in a Mid-Western town with teens listening to their father’s music: “We were never fans of stockcar races, though mesmerized by the roaring of those cars … babes of the bible belt may be low hanging fruit in the forest but they sang the songs of their fathers…dutiful daughters…dutiful sons.”

“When the sun goes down on the backside of whatever town I’m in” keeps the fires of your attention burning on “Killing Time,” with its mid-tempo song of being “snowblind just killing time.”

Then there’s “Monroe County Nights” with its “houses on the hill where I lived seem so sad….used to seem so sad… while salt and pepper hair crowned the heads of unwed mothers…” a nostalgic story chronicling a return to one’s hometown after years away. Lyrics soar to atmospheric heights with “by and by we all are shacked, caged by county lines… we are no easy prey,  we are creatures prone to flight, on a Monroe County Night.”  And Todd Beene’s pedal steel, the elder Lucas on banjo, and Chloe Manor’s harmonies behind Austin Lucas’ perfect vocal blend of grit and frailty, tug at the resigned heartstrings of our collective unconscious’ small town Mid-Western memories.

There’s never been a song like “My Mother and the Devil,” whose lines Lucas reports came to him in a dream during a phase of heightened anxiety.  Lines like: “My mother says the devil is the only one who ever gained a thing by telling folks the truth.  And my father says the devil and my mother are the only ones who’ll be there always and forever, no matter what I do.”  Let that one germinate in the back of your mind for awhile.

“Goat and Goose” tells a fabulous story of tin brass decorations, homebound as they are, have a dream their child will see a world “from sea to shining sea,” and once again we are born aloft on the ideas that we are outsiders watching life pass by.

“The Shadow and Marie,” tells us the “dead don’t hear the wind blow down,” and “we’ll all fade in time.. but the shadow in your body isn’t what I see” confronts mortality throughout the song, addressing the constant companion to us all.  Lucas reportedly wrote this song while seeing his new partner through a bout with cancer.  And here we’re treated to Chris Westhoff on piano and Chloe Manor again on harmonies.

This album deserves to be heard, and you deserve to hear it.  Not to mention read more about it, here:  [For our interview with Austin Lucas click one of these bolded words here.] Find your copy here.   Tour dates below.

Aug 17 Bloomington IN – The Bishop

Aug 18 – Columbus OH – Rumba Café

Aug 19 – Harrisburg, PA – Whitaker Center-Sunoco Performance Theater

Aug 23 – Chicago, IL – Chop Shop

Aug 24 – Minneapolis, MN – Hook and Ladder

Aug 25 – Appleton, WI – Mill Creek

Aug 30 – Birmingham, AL – The Nick

Aug 31 – Birmingham AL – Seasick Records (In-store appearance)

Sept 1 – Asheville, NC – The Odditorium

Sept – 12 Nashville, TN – AMERICANAFEST (The Local)

Sept 14 – Chicago, IL – Cobra Lounge*

Sept 16 Pittsburgh, PA – Club Café*

Sept 17 – Buffalo, NY – Rec Room*

Sept 18 – Brooklyn, NY – Knitting Factory*

Sept 19 – New York, NY – City Winery*

Sept 20 – Garwood, NJ – Crossroads*

Sept 21 Croydon, PA – Neshaminy Creek Brewing*

Sept 22 – Ithaca, NY – The Haunt*

Sept 23 – Boston, MA – City Winery*

Sept 25 – Virginia Beach, VA – Shakas*

Sept 26 – Washington, DC – City Winery*

Sept 27 – Richmond, VA – Broadberry*

Sept 28 – Atlanta, GA – City Winery*

Sept 29 – Cincinnati, OH – North Yacht Club*

Sept 30 – Nashville, TN – City Winery*

* w/ Face To Face

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