Apologies for the delays in updates, the trains have been backed up at the station, or in other words, I have been planning a move and getting ready to start a new job, which has seriously cut into train-song writing time. But anyways, one of the main themes here, or at least one of my personal favorite aspects of train songs, is how they typically update old styles (both musically and lyrically) for new generations of audiences. Austin Lucas certainly fits this trend. By far the most musically proficient of the legions of punk-turned-country troubadours out there, Lucas obviously has had some schooling in classic Americana, and he blends punk and bluegrass in a way that sounds totally authentic and not at all contrived. Earlier albums of his are almost entirely acoustic but the electric guitars have been increasing appearing on his newer albums, which add a harder edge to his already powerful songwriting.
Off of Lucas’s 2011 release New Home in the Old World, Thunder Rail addresses a troubled period of life living near a an “aging railway line,” presumably in Logan County (though I unfortunately don’t know enough about Lucas’s life to know which Logan County this is referring to). Like any good train song, Thunder Rail is chock full of train puns like spinning wheels and sparked and smoking timber. Through various breakdowns and traumas in the narrator’s life, the only constant is the thundering rail of the train that passes, which would be comforting were it not for the noise. I love watching trains as much as the next guy, but living on or near a rail line certainly would get old. Besides addressing the problems of living near a railroad, the song speaks to one truth about trains that appears in many train songs– for better or worse they usually can be counted on to arrive on schedule. Its yet another sad train song – another common thread here at Lonesome Whistles.
Austin Lucas incidentally has just signed with New West Records (joining Lonesome Whistle favorites the Drive-By Truckers) and his has a new one is coming out in August, that includes backing instrumentation from Glossary. Here is a new track that showcases a heavier direction. Suffice to say, this new song rocks, and I am definitely excited about this record.