Sometimes a man wants to rock out, and other times he wants to sit back with a beer and think about where life has been leading him. Lucero are clearly in the latter mood on All a Man Should Do, which is the most subdued and contemplative album the Memphis-based band has delivered in some time. The songs and the performances are no less passionate than Lucero has ever been, but while this band usually hits like a Dixie-fried fusion of Bruce Springsteen and the Replacements, All a Man Should Do is an album about reflection and even remorse, pondering love that's gone wrong ("They Called Her Killer," "Baby, Don't You Want Me") and places and people that are no longer what they used to be ("Went Looking for Warren Zevon's Los Angeles," "Woke Up in New Orleans"), and the introspective middle-of-the-night feel of these sessions rings as true as the band's most rollicking material. The raspy twang of Ben Nichols' voice never sounds anything less than honest, especially on this material, and Rick Steff's piano and keyboards take a larger place in the arrangements here, with his emphatically placed notes adding just the right high lonesome accent. And if this doesn't always sound like full-on rock & roll, the muscular R&B groove of "Throwback No. 2" and the distant thunder of "Can't You Hear Them Howl" are on hand to remind us these guys haven't gone soft. (They also manage that rare feat of covering Big Star and finding something new in the song with their version of "I'm in Love with a Girl," which features backing vocals from founding Big Star member Jody Stephens.) Saying All a Man Should Do is a more mature effort from Lucero sells short the street smarts and emotional wisdom of their previous work, but this album does find the fine band reaching for something different, and they hit their target with skill, assurance, and clarity.
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming