Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Magnificent Seven: Ben Nichols, The Last Pale Light in the West

A well-crafted, Southern-tinged stab at folk-pop, Ben Nichols's The Last Pale Light In the West is a brief, melancholic concept album inspired by Cormac McCarthy's famed novel Blood Meridian. Without fully committing to the constraints of an actual linear narrative, Nichols's album takes a deeply desolate aesthetic and stretches it to the point of contextual relevance with little to no emotive bludgeoning. As the frontman and voice for Southern-rock/country-punk scenesters Lucero (who are currently putting the final touches on their major-label debut, and their first album since 2006's Rebels, Rogues & Sworn Brothers), Nichols has spent the better part of a decade regaling us with bar ballads of lost opportunities and nagging inhibitions in the key of Born to Run, but his usually whiskey-soaked vocal delivery is slightly reined in here, allowing for a more empathetic storyteller scowl.

*****Read the full review here.