“Texas Roots meets Snakeskin boots”
— Austin Chronice Recommended Show List
“The soundtrack of old cow pastures, ancient dancehalls, and modern hearts that never stopped loving ‘em both. The Word is out, Lucas Hudgins is the real thing. ”
— -D. Pilot. Outlaw magazine (Review of 'The World left is mine')
Lucas Hudgins: Austin’s Best Kept Secret No More
Austin’s doing it again. Hiding a gem in its little bars on back alleys and byways, savoring every gentle sob of a steel guitar crying out its soul, and hoping the rest of us don’t manage to find out what we’re missing. But it won’t work. Can’t work when music’s this good. Not for any lover of actual, by God, honest and down home stone cold country. Because that’s what Lucas Hudgins is, folks. The real thing, the way it used to be done, Hank Thompson and Merle Haggard style. No cobwebs, though. Dale Watson’s proven amply for a sustained period of time that it’s possible to be modern and relevant without getting away from the fundamentals. Hudgins has a voice to keep pace with Dale. And brother, does he have some songs. Catch him at the Spoke or the Mean-eyed Cat one night as you pass through central Texas, and you’ll be a fan of Lucas Hudgins and the First Cousins before the first set break.
The World Left Is Mine is the band’s second record. 2005’s Honky Tonk Illusion had its own moments of greatness (the title track is one of my favorites). And that release was fortuitous, as shortly after it dropped Hudgins and Chris Miller (Dave Alvin) met in Austin and became roommates and writing partners. Together the two soon persuaded pedal steel legend David Leroy Biller to throw in with the band, and an interesting mix of musical styles, knowledge, and talents began to coalesce. The result, this second record under the Lucas Hudgins banner, is astounding in subtle fashion.
There’s no bombast here, certainly no flashpots going off, no big hooks to drag the college kids on the dancefloor. In short, nothing sexy at first glance to make the record stand out. But then music at its best has always been more about the sound than the looks, and what’s on display here is a track list no “artist” currently roaming Music City’s big time could honestly attempt to pull off. It takes sincerity and security and integrity to sing songs like these. If you don’t have those, you can’t make a song like “Three Chairs” work. Based on lyrics alone, a song like this is just cheesy. Some drunk in a bar commiserating his woman’s loss with his friends, those three wooden chairs. Buying rounds for the gang, even if the others aren’t really keeping up. Finding a way to face up to life’s hard truths, again. But put these lyrics in the safe harbor of Hudgins’ masterfully expressive vocals, and they ring as true as young love’s first peal. Same goes for “Step By Step,” a paean to the healing properties of an old hardwood floor and a woman who knows how to follow. Both songs make it easy to get the boots scooting slowly in the night. But it’s not all doom and gloom, with a side order of pedal steel sadness. “Country Song” kicks up the tempo and gets the night in gear, reminding us that coming out on the upper side of a broken relationship can be a damn good thing. And of course it’s not a country record, not really, if there isn’t a cheating song. “Your Heart Just Slipped My Mind” is a whopper:
I won’t try to tell you
Things I do are right
A man forgets tomorrow
For the things he needs tonight
Now the knot that’s tied
Is come undone
I leave it all behind
When your ring slipped off my finger
Your heart slipped my mind
Top to bottom, this is a country music record. Hudgins and company have captured the essence of the sounds our parents cut their teeth on, and they’ve figured a way to make that music relevant in this world we’ve all inherited. They’re proving that the basics do still matter, the fundamentals are timeless, and that musicianship outduels sex appeal all day long. The World Left Is Mine is the soundtrack of old cow pastures, ancient dancehalls, and modern hearts that never stopped loving ‘em both.
The Word is out, Lucas Hudgins is the Real Thing.
~ Dave Pilot