Good Luck Charm
New West Records

The biggest compliment you could give the Mastersons in a review would be to not even mention their recent time in Steve Earle’s band. Oops! But now that that’s out of the way, put him out of your mind and consider the Mastersons’ second album on its own terms, as it definitely merits. To call the duo’s music “Americana” or “alt- country” is reductive, even if Eleanor Whitmore’s violin fiddles about and there’s a solid roots-music underpinning to all that she and Chris Masterson do. Good Luck Charm is above all a smart and imaginative pop record that seamlessly rocks, gets all country, and masterfully shows that what really counts in making distinctive music is less what you do and more what you do with it. And unlike way too many acts that draw from the country style and soil, the Mastersons handily dodge and defy the usual (and so overworked) cliches with, say, the oblique compositional angles and harmony singing on “It’s Not Like Me” that’s far more Buckingham and Nicks than Gram and Emmylou. Then they follow it with the kickin’ shuffle “Anywhere But Here,” which takes some nifty left turns outside the usual spins on the honky-tonk dancefloor. Every track here has those truly creative touches and sticks to your cerebral hit parade like Super Glue, making Good Luck Charm stand out as one of the most irresistibly fresh and, indeed, charming records of the year. — ROB PATTERSON