Austin Lucas has come home.
It’s been over two decades since the songwriter packed his bags and left Bloomington, Indiana, the Midwestern town where he was born and spent his formative years. He returns to that place, both creatively and physically, with his seventh studio album, Immortal Americans. Written after a tumultuous period that found Lucas sobering up, supporting his ex-partner through a battle with cancer, and breaking up with his longtime record label. Immortal Americans is a clear-eyed album for murkier times, rooted in stripped-down songs that find the artist reflecting upon the changes in both his hometown and himself.
Co-produced by Lucas and Will Johnson (Centro-matic-Monsters of Folk) and recorded/engineered by Steve Albini and captured in a series of live, full-band performances, Immortal Americans was written after Lucas resettled in Bloomington. He’d been away for years, touring the world as an independent solo artist before signing a record deal with New West in 2013. In many ways, the albums he released during that period were reflections of the music he’d grown up with, from the mountain music of his father (bluegrass musician Bob Lucas) to the punk records that soundtracked his teenage years. Appropriately, Lucas earned a fanbase as a folksinger with punk roots – or was it the other way around? – while touring the country with artists who represented both ends of that spectrum, sharing tours with Willie Nelson one minute and Chuck Ragan the next.
Immortal Americans is Austin Lucas’ homecoming album, created during a whirlwind period of tumult and regrowth. With its gothic heartland sound and autobiographical lyrics, it’s also Lucas at his most honest, rooted in a string of largely unamplified anthems that don’t rely on electricity to pack a punch.