This retrospective album covers 22 years and 10 albums in the ongoing musical career of a British folk roots-based artist who has lived in Australia since 1991.
Backed by Lucas’ long-time band the Dead Setters, there are 18 tracks in chronological sequence to chart his musical journey from 1996 to 2018 plus two previously unreleased tunes: the title track and a demo of The Onion Song.
Lucas wears his influences on his sleeve – citing Dylan and more (alt) country orientated artists like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt as key reference points. These are easy to spot on songs such as Between The Ditches, a cautionary tale charting the gulf that separates rags and riches, and Libere Su Corazon , a sloganeering protest song.
The general bias is towards the fortunes of the common man with corporate greed featuring heavily in the subtext as exemplified in the ‘there goes the neighbourhood’ tunes Shopping Town and Small Town .
But Lucas is most at home in road songs where arrangements are frequently enlivened by some jaunty fiddle playing. In these, the changing world is presented not as a threat but as more of a challenge to be faced with stubborn forbearance as encapsulated in the line from the title track: “round here we don’t break we bend”.
But in likening time to a river (Canal Road / Dryland Sea) and with insipid love songs like Until She’s Mine (“I’m in love with a girl I’ve seen around”), Lucas is often guilty of dealing with pallid platitudes rather than risking some more soul-bearing content. As a result this is a collection where the bland outweighs the bold.
Mark Lucas’ website