Like It’s the Last One Left
Boo Clap/Thirty Tigers
The Austin, TX band Uncle Lucius returns after a five-year hiatus with Like It’s the Last One Left. Essentially this is the story of a fan base that just wouldn’t let this band fade away. Yet, there were other fortuitous factors at play as well. The band had its song “Keep the Wolves Away” placed in an episode of Yellowstone, resulting in gold and platinum certifications. That, plus the organic growth of their following post their farewell tour combined to be a strong impetus for reunion. With a fresh outlook, the band embellishes their roots-rock and Americana with string arrangements and new production approaches, but their songs are arguably as good or better than ever.
The band is comprised of frontman Kevin Galloway (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Mike Carpenter – (various guitars, stringed instruments, vocals), Joshua Dane Greco (drums, percussion, vocals), Jonny “Keys” Grossman (various keys, vocals), Doug Strahan (guitars, vocals), and Drew Scherger (bass, vocals). Guest contributions are considerable and will be detailed by specific tracks below. Band members share in many song credits with eight songs written or co-written by producer Hal Jon Vorpahl.
The album begins with the loping, infectious “Keep Singing Along,” which you may have already seen or heard as a single and accompanying video. There’s a crispness to the reverberating keys and guitars and a tone of resolve and resilience, a thread that runs through the record, both in the lyrics and in Galloway’s delivery. The sound gets crunchier on the riff-filled “Civilized Anxiety” while “All the Angelos” takes witty aim at the west coasters who have relocated to Austin thinking the ‘grass is greener.’ Fellow Austinite Kelly Braun of Reckless Kelly is on the fiddle. Standout track “I’m Happy,” with its simple chord structure and relaxed vibe, is one of those indelible songs that will linger in your head for days.
The sonics grow a bit more complex and denser on “Tuscaloosa Rain,” as John Mills and his Tosca String Quartet provide the orchestration and harmonies from the vocal duo US (Sir Woman, Wild Child) add to the swelling choruses. The duo reappears in “Holly Roller.” Almost as if self-conscious about straying too far into new sonic territory, “Holly Roller” returns to the band’s stomping, roots rock, complete with a fiery lead guitar solo, while the previous cut, the melodious “Love in Kind” bears some of the infectious qualities of the opener. Following a spacey interlude (“Draw the Line’), the power chords of the muscular “Trace My Soul” alternate with calmer passages of Galloway singing with sparse accompaniment before the song evolves into a blast of blow-back-your-hair rock n’ roll. The sequencing is interesting because a less confident, less mature band would likely elect this one as the opener rather than the ballad “Keep Singing Along.” All these disparate elements – potent rock chords, orchestration, and soaring melodies/harmonies coalesce on the closing “Heart Over Mind.”
A December release date is always a bit risky but on the other hand, Uncle Lucius faces a smaller competitive field in vying for attention. The title gives one a bit of pause though. Let’s hope that it’s not a swan song but indeed a return and that we don’t have to endure another hiatus before hearing them again. They remain one of Americana’s strongest bands.
- Jim Hynes
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