Luke Tuchscherer – Always Be True
Clubhouse Records – 2 June 2017
Pronounced ‘Tuck Shearer’, formerly a vocalist-drummer with UK Americana outfit The Whybirds, Bedford-based Luke Tuchscherer launched a solo career as a singer-songwriter with his 2014 debut You Get So Alone At Times. Three years on, now signed to Clubhouse Records, he returns with Always Be True, a more sonically fleshed out affair that, as the press release notes, comes with echoes of Uncle Tupelo, Tom Petty and Steve Earle.
It plays its trump card at the start with the jangly acoustic strum of Waiting For My Day To Come with its crowd-friendly title refrain, organ, pedal steel (played by the ubiquitous BJ Cole) and drums kicking in to build the song into a blue-collar anthem.
It’s followed by another strong track, Don’t Put Me Out, an infectiously melodic slice of alt-country rock and one of two numbers that, aside from seeing him behind the drum kit again, reunites Tuchscherer with fellow original Whybirds Dave Banks, on backing vocals, and Ben Haswell on acoustic. The reunion continues with the jauntily loping These Lonesome Blues while, other than singing back-ups on most tracks, can also be heard contributing banjo to the train rhythm rolling hoedown Be True.
He takes the pace down for Outside, Looking In with its anchoring slow walk drum beat, keening steel and reverb-treated vocal for a song that would seem to be about bitter envy, about being excluded from the party out there by the “total pricks talking shit in fancy dress”, though the line about “spending my time staring into cyberspace where people all around me are living their lives” puts a rather different spin on things.
It slumps slightly on the muted balladry of the overlong seven-minute When The Dream Dies, a song that seems to be aiming for Jackson Browne territory as it unfolds vignettes guessingly about the loss of someone in an accident and a single father discovering his child’s been taken into custody. Likewise, the slow waltzing end of relationship regrets Amanda Jane, which is pleasant enough, but never really goes anywhere.
Fortunately, it recovers in the final stretch, the piano-led rekindling of the heart Love Don’t Come Easy giving way to the remember the good days themed mid-tempo country swayer about friendship, No One Did It Like Us. It ends with the heartfelt A Song For Jack Brown, a simple strummed acoustic song inspired by a Facebook tribute page to the titular 21-year-old from Leighton Buzzard who, despite seeming to have it all, felt he couldn’t go on and committed suicide in 2009. On that opening track he sings “I’m feeling half dead most of the time, just waiting for my day to come.” With this album, it’s arrived.