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If Lynyrd Skynyrd were less Deliverance and more The Sound and the Fury, they could be Nashville, Tennessee’s own Lucero. Lucero’s new album, Nobody’s Darlings, covers much of the same southern rock lyrical pantheon. Lead singer Ben Nichols sings of “double bourbon on the rocks on the weekend, “little girls down in Georgia,” and “bloody knuckles…fought in a bar.” But instead of pure, unfettered “Sweet Alabama” style love for his homeland, Nichols and company maintain a measure of distance from their southern heritage.

Many of the songs off Nobody’s Darlings are cheerful, anthemic combinations of punk and country (“punktry,” anyone?). Singer Nichols, bassist John Stubblefield, guitarist Brian Venable, and drummer Roy Berry seem to be as influenced by Johnny Cash as by Sid Vicious. “California” is an especially catchy, straight-ahead rock number, uptempo and taking on topics like boozin’ and lovin’.

Where Nichols’ gravelly voice truly shines is on the ballads, particularly the final track off Darlings, War, a slow tribute to World War II veterans. What could have been a melodramatic ode turns out to be the deepest and most touching track on the album, reminiscent of Woody Guthrie’s heavily ambivalent wartime laments. “I know that don’t sound right / Don’t think too bad of me / Now it keeps me up nights / What I could have done differently.”

Nobody’s Darlings, Lucero’s fourth full-length, is out May 24th on their own label, Liberty & Lament. The band is in the midst of a U.S. tour. For more tour info: click here

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