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Mark Lucas - Ghost Of Long Creek Road

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 8 / 8 / 2002

Mark Lucas - Ghost Of Long Creek Road
Label: Laughing Outlaw
Format: CD


"Intriguing mixture" of country, folk , blues and pop from former London based pub rocker and singer-songwriter who emigrated to Australia twenty years ago

Mark Lucas moved to Australia over twenty years ago from England and gained his experience playing in a variety of groups. From playing in the London pub scene in the late 70s he has taken in country, folk, blues and rock along the way to playing with various bands in his adopted home of Sydney. Recently he gained more exposure with The Parwills whose critically acclaimed 1996 album, ‘Boothills Of Desire” was hailed as a good, solid alt country album. Lucas says that “ he doesn’t believe in pigeon-holes and never has done” when it comes to his influences but there is an undeniable traditional country flavour to the songs on this, his second solo album, although he also incorporates roots and blues into the mix. Maybe sticking the alt country tag on Lucas is doing the songs he writes an injustice as he certainly is a cut above the rest when it comes to adding subtle textures to the music, and he also has a talent for storytelling which is sadly lacking in some of his contemporaries. But country is an obvious influence; there can be no argument there. The opening track, ‘Hard Times In The Land Of Plenty’, which is a more rock influenced song than a country track, starts the album off with what seems to be a recurring theme; Mark’s observations of the people and places in his chosen land. Lucas succeeds in writing country music that reflects the city experience. ‘Urban Country’ is a phrase that has been used to describe Mark’s music and it’s an apt description. It would be unfair, however, to go overboard on the country influence. The track, ‘Hurt No More’, for example is a tale of love and loss with some excellent Lucas lyrics, “ Remember the time I held you back when you were bound to fall/You said I was worth my weight in gold/Now that's worth nothing at allAnd a short time may have passed but a lifetime is walking out that door”. It’s the stunning backing vocals from Kara Grainger which take the song from good singer songwriter territory though and push it into a great, almost soul influenced song which is sung with pure emotion. Not a trace of country there. Mark’s talent for storytelling is non more apparent than on ‘Between The Ditches’ with fiddle and Dobro colouring the tale of Cherry who “drove a kwiksnacks truck by day” and spent her time dodging roving hands before climbing “back into her Ford, her own no-man’s land”. It’s a sad tale of a girl taking the wrong directions and ending up back home “at rest in the family plot”. “There are no street signs, ‘tween rags and riches, and it’s a long way home, between the ditches” sings Mark while the fiddle and Dobro weave in and out sympathetically. In fact, Mark’s choices of instruments, which are played brilliantly throughout, really do add texture to his songs. Apart from the usual suspects of mandolin and steel guitar as well as the fiddle and Dobro, Mark also uses a didjeridoo on a couple of tracks. One of these songs is ‘Walk In Beauty’ which is possibly the strongest song on this set. It’s an atmospheric tale of coming “up from the country and I moved to your town, and I’m looking for the good life, the one I heard about”. Eventually realising that the streets are not paved with gold he nevertheless shows some optimism with the line, “I’ll admit that things ain’t looking good but I won’t admit defeat”. Having given this album repeated listens it appears that Mark does have a point about not being pigeonholed. The trad country feel of some of the tracks that seemed to set the flavour for the album actually diminishes, as the songs become more familiar. For every country tune like ‘Martha Jane’ there is a song like ‘Torchsong Lament’, an aching ballad which owes as much to folk music as it does country. Mark’s superb lyrical touch is present and correct on this track too, “So here I sit between these four walls, drunk on the hope of a late phone call”. All in all Lucas has assembled an intriguing mixture of country, folk and blues with some pop added in as well which sounds more appealing with each listen. Judging by the songs on this album we are going to hear a lot more from Mark Lucas in the future and this album is going to be picked up and played for a good while yet.

Track Listing:-
1 Hard Times In The Land Of Plenty
2 The Ghost Of Lost Creek Road
3 Don’t You Know Me Girl
4 Lean On Me
5 Walk In Beauty
6 Hurt No More
7 Run For Cover
8 Between The Ditches
9 Bring Me Whiskey
10 Torchsong Lament
11 Martha Jane
12 Sweetheart
13 To The Limit
14 The Place We Call Forever

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