The Mastersons – Good Luck Charm (ALBUM REVIEW)

mastersonscdIt gets louder when we’re singin’ together,” Eleanor and Chris Masterson sing on the title track off their second full-length album Good Luck Charm. Coming off the acclaim of their debut Birds Fly South, The Mastersons are stronger than ever both vocally and in their songwriting. Playing off each other’s strengths, they have perfected their craft, with beautifully catchy harmonies and a happy blend of Americana, roots, country and even pop. These two are a match made in heaven.

Lively, vibrant songs with unforgettable choruses like “If I Wanted To”, “Closer to You” and the title track “Good Luck Charm” feature the duo in their sweet spot: singing together. Their harmonies are rich and varied, showcasing in particular Eleanor’s near perfect voice. She’s got the range and skills of a classically trained singer, but a certain soulfulness that just can’t be taught. She’s the type of vocalist who makes it sound easy and effortless, and it shows especially on “Uniform”, a sad song that laments an identity crisis and features the loveliest lap steel. The lap steel notes blend almost seamlessly with their harmonies, acting as an extension of their vocals.

The Mastersons hit their country stride with “It’s Not Like Me” and “Anywhere but Here”, both quirky and self-deprecating, a side they’ve shown on past tunes, too. They have a knack for writing runaway songs and for taking a humorous, but still sad, look at their shortcomings. They tell tales of not getting it right, repeating the same mistakes, and most importantly, always counting on each other.

Eleanor’s fiddle playing is, like the lap steel, an extension of her ethereal vocals, particularly on the instant classic love song “I Found You”, a tearjerker for sure. “You might be the find of the century/You could be my good luck charm…It’s all or nothing now that I’ve found you,” they sing together in perfect harmony. But somehow, The Mastersons manage to uphold their songs’ integrity, never veering into sappy territory despite often writing lyrics that boast putting your best foot forward (“Uniform”), life’s tragedies (“Time is Tender”), failure (“Cautionary Tale”), and of course, love (“Closer to You”).

Another love song that takes it up to a dance-worthy pace is “Easy by Your Side”, a song about easy summer love, and the perfect companion for a sun-drenched road trip. This is one that will undoubtedly be on heavy rotation, and for those less interested in the watered-down mainstream sound, it could easily be the song of the summer. With an addictive hook and jangling guitar, this is a standout.

Good Luck Charm is a tightly constructed record from start to finish, with intimate songs that feel like a personal glimpse into not only the lives of Eleanor and Chris, but also our own. These are simple stories about life’s struggles, from the introspective to the interactive. They capture relationships, private thoughts and sticky situations all in one fell swoop, and they do it with ease. There’s a reason these two have been lauded as an Austin breakout, and it’s written all over this album.

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