The Mastersons’ Good Luck Charm marks the first offering from the husband-and-wife duo in which the songs were co-written, rather than written individually, as on their debut. This new cooperative approach greatly informs the tone of bittersweet unity that runs through the album, which explores fully and artfully the costs and benefits of love, partnership, and duty.
Case in point: “Uniform,” an ode to those who eschew personal pursuits in order to step up to the responsibilities into the roles thrust upon them. Trading verses, the duo pay their respects to the notion that there is honor in the sacrifice, but no amount can fully stifle the resulting resentment brought forth by such sacrifice. They seem to arrive reluctantly at the the conclusion that this resentment does not diminish, but emboldens the sacrifice. “But all that shines is seldom gold/I’m growing up/I’m feeling old/In my uniform, for everyone to see,” they harmonize. It’s optimistic without a hint of the saccharine or self-serving qualities that color much of the pop-country landscape.
Performing as The Mastersons, Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore are closer in tone to the Dixie Chicks (with whom they share a producer in Jim Scott), than Steve Earle, whom they support as part of his band, The Dukes (though there is clearly political overlap with those artists). With an album title and title track that alludes to Senator Wendy Davis’ recent filibuster, the Mastersons have placed themselves at odds with the going concerns of the pop country world. On the other hand, it places them in the midst of the likes of the Drive-By Truckers, Wilco, and the Heartless Bastards, Americana traditionalists who reckon courageously with the small and big, alike.
THE MASTERSONS support JUSTIN CURRIE. 7 p.m. tonight, Sept. 18. Club Cafe. $25.