The Lucky Losers blues duo high on life with ‘In Any Town’

Lucky Losers
Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz are both lucky and good.
Photo Credit: Victoria Smith

A man shouts “We’re rollin’” amid the studio chatter as The Lucky Losers launch “In Any Town” with “So High.” And indeed they are. Both rollin’, and so high on life it seems.

The San Francisco-based band, led by partners Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz, for the most part toss aside the bottom of the blues in favor of a free and easy flow on this, their second album. Regardless of the variety of modes they blend, the outcomes always end up gleaming like charms. Each song’s either happy to begin with, or if not, certainly elicits a knowing and satisfied smile.

Berkowitz’ jaunty, R&B-tinged opener celebrates a couple’s mutual affection, and when the artists themselves feel that way, the vibe projected rings completely true. Next, “It Ain’t Enough” engrosses with gospel-fired intensity. Releasing feelings of weakness, Lemons sings it in her burnished but strong and fluid voice, not unlike Marcia Ball’s at times. Then, she’s as playful with Berkowitz in the classic country of “Jackson” as she is pleading amid the barroom smoke, brass, and tinkling piano in her own classic-sounding “Don’t Let ‘em See Ya Cry.”

For his parts, Berkowitz sings with unaffectedness, always making his point. He blows harp that way as well. The triumphant horns that light up “Blind Man in the Dark” contradict the matter at hand. Berkowitz takes a sunny approach in making a case for a better way to live than falling into the rabbit hole, or worse. His line “When the bullets fly, they always miss their mark,” rightly resonates, right now.

They wind it all down with an airy take on Rick Danko and Bobby Charles’ “Small Town Talk,” New Orleans-flavored of course. Although a superb full band and an assortment of top-flight guests drive every song, that one’s perfect for an album that at the end of the day revels in two people connecting in every way. Lemons and Berkowitz both defy and define their moniker with this delightful recording.

— Tom Clarke

  • The Lucky Losers
    “In Any Town”

    Label: Dirty Cat Records

ABOUT Tom Clarke

Tom Clarke
From pre-war blues to the bluegrass of the Virginia hills, Tom Clarke has a passion for most any kind of deep-rooted American music, and has been writing about it for 25 years. He’s particularly fond of anything from Louisiana, Los Lobos, and the Allman Brothers Band and its ever-growing family tree. Tom’s reviews and articles have appeared in BluesPrint, the King Biscuit Times, Hittin’ The Note, Kudzoo, Blues Revue, Elmore, Blues Music Magazine, and now, Tahoe Onstage. Tom and his wife Karen have raised four daughters in upstate New York. They split their time between the Adirondack Mountains and coastal South Carolina.

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