Reviews Austin Lucas The Common Cold (Reissue)

Austin Lucas

The Common Cold (Reissue)

In a time of ex-punkers going the acoustic, solo route, Austin Lucas offers something that differs from his Revival Tour circuit peers. Where artists like Chuck Ragan and Tim Barry offer rootsy tunes brimming with desolation, they hold a shadow of hope and optimism. Lucas, on the other hand, wallows in despair, taking more time to focus on the details of a hard life and poor choices instead of an underlying promise of a better tomorrow.

The Common Coldis a reissue of his first release and the record begins strongly; setting his somber, country voice over twangy guitar and harmonized backing vocals in “Dead Factories” before it segues into the lamenting “Darlin’” and establishes the melancholy tone that holds throughout the album, with a sentimental, lyric heavy wallowing style. Even on the finger-picking “Pigeon Father,” the energetic accompaniment is no match for Lucas’ mournful voice as he graphically sings “Your clothes were soaked and you’re coughing up blood…You’re an absolute disaster.” Lyrically, the approach is of dying small towns and listless nights watching the sunset from the front porch. The only real giveaway of Lucas’ punk history is in the title track, with the relatable line, “My ears were ringing from some fifty basement shows,” which stands out as one of his better songs, where he uses a first person narration and blends his voice with a fuller sonic approach.

What strikes me on the record are Lucas’ descriptive lyrics that give shape to all his songs, at times using abrupt methods and rhythmic choices that throw the guitar off for a split second and draw emphasis to specific details within the songs. The details often focus on aesthetic, sensory images. And his phrasing is impressive, sentimental, and appropriate for the tone, such as “Kith and Kin’s” simple plea, “Don’t bury me.” The only fault is that the somber tone gets repetitive and it can be difficult to distinguish between the slower songs if you aren’t focused on the lyricism. The songs that feature backing harmonies help to counteract this, but Lucas’ songs are meant to be listened to, not played in the background.

7.0 / 10Loren
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