Album: Austin Lucas, Somebody Loves You (Suburban Home)

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The Independent Culture

Like many a young Americana act, burly troubadour Austin Lucas cut his teeth on underground punk and hardcore before soaking up the sounds of his heritage (his father Bob Lucas, whose banjo stipples some of these eleven tracks, is a Grammy-winning songwriter).

But once bitten by the bluegrass bug, he's progressed apace: this fourth album is steeped in country mystique, from the dog whose barking lends the title-track its authentic back-porch flavour, to the heartbreak and jealousy, torments and bitter apprehensions of death which pit the surfaces of his songs. In one song, the devil has "his own icy hand wrapped around this precious little heart I have"; in the next, that same heart is "beating the cadence of a funeral march", both portents casting a cloud over whatever prospects he possesses. But then, portents are a constant companion when your voice shares some of the "high lonesome" character of George Jones: even the poignant bluegrass duet "Singing Man", which recalls Jones's work with Tammy Wynette, opens with the chilly scene-setting line "On a long and winding road, 'neath the passing of crows" – an image so starkly compelling it's hard to believe it wasn't written by Hank Williams or Johnny Cash.

Download this: Somebody Loves You, Singing Man, Resting Place, Shoulders