One of the reasons I ventured to Austin two weekends ago was to attend the album release party for Uncle Lucius, a band I have frequently written about on this blog. As predicted, the concert was a blast. But it’s the album I want to focus on right now. Uncle Lucius’ first album in a few years, “And You Are Me” is a pleasant assortment of tunes the band has put together. Many of the songs have been collaboratively written, but it’s the songs written individually which are debatably the most memorable and powerful of the lot.
The first solo-written song on the album is Hal Vorphal’s bright, “Pocket Full Of Misery.” I’ve reviewed the song before, here. I may have given the album version not ideal marks, but I will admit that it has been growing on me.
Next up is Mike Carpenter’s, “Willing Wasted Time” which very much reminds me of Led Zepplin. Mike’s high tenor singing sounds appropriately a lot like Robert Plant, the singer of Led Zepplin. The song is also reminiscent of early 90’s rock. Maybe that’s why I like it so much and can’t get it out of my head.
After Mike’s piece, we are treated to,”Keep The Wolves Away,” a definite favorite among the band members and written by Kevin Galloway. This moody masterpiece excels in the lyrics department; a true story as I’ve been told.
Grossman’s solo songwriting piece on the album comes in the form of “New Drug.” While it didn’t initially come to me as an especially memorable song, after a few listens, I feel secure in saying it has been happily stuck in my head all week. At around the two minute mark, the song builds to be quite a romping gospel tune with plenty of energy and I can’t help but think of a hearty dose of a Leon Russel influence. Grossman’s voice sounds a lot like Stephen Stills, especially on his “Manasas” album. Although from a different album, Stills’ song, “Sit Yourself Down” might be comparable to Grossman’s “New Drug.”
Maybe my favorite song on the album, is another Hal Vorphal original, “Just Keep Walking.” Hal really know what he’s doing, writing for Kevin’s soulful draw which is reminiscent of another Austinite, Janis Joplin’s voice. The lyrics are simple and bluesy, but they work fantastically with the music arrangement. Sure, the underlying song structure is your basic blues song, but Kevin’s soulful belting brings the song to new heights.
The album ends with another Galloway ballad, the ultra-sweet, “I Am You,” from which the album name is taken. This version pulls out all the mellow stops, with the addition of a great cello part, and an impressive percussion sound to create a deep, rich sound. Despite all that, I still prefer the stripped down version found here.
In addition to these stand-out individually-written numbers, the group has written about half of the album collaboratively. The album starts off with the powerful and rockin’, “Set Ourselves Free,” which has a fantastic drumming intro. “Rosalia” is a lovely number that’s got a little more folk influence, and the saxes on this track add a nice depth. A favorite of mine, “Somewhere Else,” brightens up the album with a melodic guitar riff, I’m sure we can thank Mike for. And lastly, the album comes back into its deep rock and soul roots with “There Is No End.”
All in all, Uncle Lucius’ album is unique in that each song is certainly unique, with distinct influences and sounds. Sometimes the band is more hard and rocking, whereas other times, we get a feel for a more gentle and soothing side. For a band to pull off that kind of range, while still maintaining a consistent sound, is really impressive.