The Lucky Strikes, from Southend, have been together for ten years now and this is their fifth album. Without doubt they are one of our best Americana bands. Lead singer is Matthew Boulter, long time member of the Simone Felice group and an accomplished solo artist in his own right with four albums. With him here are Will Bray on drums, Paul Ambrose on bass and Dave Giles on piano and accordion.
This is an album that must be listened to carefully. In time, a picture emerges that shouts a picture: Take, for example, “War Drums,” the single taken from the album, where ideas and images “like sudden blasts” itemise what lurks “behind my eyes.” This is an incomplete quoted list: “The fears that I live in; killed by prayers; money can bring some sort of happiness to a drowned man; oh my heart; I could cut my song on that.” Make of that what you will, for here, as in all the tracks, is an attempted guidance to personal response and an understanding of the songs.
The record seethes meanings and feelings through Matthew’s voice and a rich variety of arrangements. You can move from soft reflection in “Lilac and Soil” with the pedal steel, the words “You are my truest love.” Deeply moving, as is the last track “Gone, Gone.” “Looking through windows.” You can move from here to “Ballad of the Silver Chain” with a story delivered with force and all the elements that guarantee the song’s pedigree: “the icy morning, the day the gypsy died; 100 silhouettes of unrequited grief” while “amid the grieving crowds, a hustler and a thief” and almost above all, at the bridge, there is that break in the middle of the song amid the drums and distinctive guitar work, something Neil Young would be proud of!
And so on. There is much more to explore here.
The Motion is: The Lucky Strikes are here to stay. And the verdict is: This their best so far.