Uncle Lucius cling tightly to the past, funneling several specific rural rock influences and generally echoing a ragged, Dixie-fried sound with a communal embrace.
Uncle Lucius is one of those bands that seem to have built their following one fan at a time. Traversing the Lone Star State of Texas, they’ve gained slow momentum over the course of the past decade, releasing four albums and generally eschewing the temptation to sign with a big-time label in order to maintain control over their own destiny. The Light, their fourth and latest album, is ostensibly released under the aegis of a well-known record company - Thirty Tigers to be precise – but was funded by fans, keeping the indie ethos intact. “Going through the motions / without knowing why; Faking our emotions / trying hard not to try,” they utter at one point, indicating a desire to travel their own path while still hoping it leads them close to the mainstream.
In truth, Uncle Lucius cling tightly to the past, funneling several specific rural rock influences and generally echoing a ragged, Dixie-fried sound with a communal embrace. Attitude and aptitude are intertwined, with singer Kevin Galloway’s gruff vocals setting the tone for their no-nonsense observations. They mostly pocket their venom in favor of a less venomous approach, one that’s rollicking but rarely rabid. Songs like “Age of Freedom”, “Gulf Coast Gypsies” and “Find Then Fade Away” keep to a deliberate, somewhat pensive pace that maintains determination without goading their listeners into ascending to a higher plateau. This is a decidedly down to earth bunch, clearly capable of stirring up backwards ballads like the humble and homespun “Taking in the View” or a track flush with pensive reflection in the form of “Nothing to Save.” It’s a decidedly disciplined approach that tows the line between resilience and restraint.
That’s not to say Uncle Lucius is lacking in either energy or enthusiasm. The rollicking rhythms that underscore such songs as “The End of 118” and “Someday Is a Far Cry” attest to their ability to pump up the proceedings and assert their populist leanings. If anything they take their cue from bands like the Allman Brothers, whose blend of funk and astute instrumentation was key to a savvy sound. Indeed, they harbor a distinct southern rock feel, as becomes a thoroughly road-tested ensemble with just the right amount of sway and swagger. There’s clear confidence manifest in the way they move the music forward, but the lack of bravado and indulgence betrays a better instinct that seems to serve them well. Call it rural rock with a knowing stance. At any rate, their knowing maturity is admirable.
Americana is a term that’s tossed about loosely these days, and applying that description to Uncle Lucius would shortchange the band’s abilities. Nevertheless, the astute combination of rock, blues and R&B betrays an allegiance to the precepts to which Americana initially subscribed. This is the real deal after all, practiced by a band whose hard work, determination and belief in their own abilities affirms an all American attitude. Whether or not their big breakthrough is imminent remains to be seen, but if purpose and perseverance count for anything, The Light should, at very least, illuminate the possibilities.