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LUCINDA WILLIAMS —DOWN WHERE THE SPIRIT MEETS THE BONE (Highway 20 Records)

 

www.lucindawilliams.com

 

 

Not content with one album, Lucinda Williams’ latest release is a twin-CD, 20-song package. A big body of work in more ways than one, an album hers fans and others are likely to return to time and time again, discovering something new on every visit.

 

Full of grit her songs are steeped in angst and biting electric guitar and punchy rhythm the listener is taken along a highway rich in rock, blues and country-steeped songs. Williams doesn’t hesitate, never mind stop at crossroads or any other kind of stop sign. Never has. She is a rebel, her own person no concessions whatsoever are made and she isn’t afraid to breech music’s boundaries. Sounding as sharp as ever, Williams’ thrusting style is augmented by a long list of genuine star players. As in Bill Frisell, Tony Joe White, Ian MacLagan, Elvis Costello’s rhythm section; Pete Thomas (drums), Davy Faragaher (bass) and Wallflowers guitarist Stuart Mathis to go with the efforts of band members Butch Norton (drums) and David Sutton (bass), and Greg Leisz (producer alongside Williams and her husband, Tom Overly). Of whom Williams has this to say; “he’s the glue that holds the whole thing together”. For her not to use the steel, slide playing Leisz would have been a huge waste, bordering on crazy, and when it comes to choices regards music she doesn’t make too many poor decisions, or prone to ignoring a gift horse.

 

 

With a view that the record is one of country soul Williams rises to the challenge of swirling keyboards, festering electric guitar and rocking rhythm as she reels off songs “Big Mess”, timeless reflective composition “When I look At The World”, pleading and powerful “Walk On” and with a raw, honest as the day is long grit “Everything But the Truth”.  Plus with a flowing feel “Stowaway In Your Heart” prior to the record surprisingly closing without any fireworks. Considering those to come before this is disappointing, but that may be me being a little over critical because it is near impossible to deliver twenty top-notch songs out of twenty! Songs like “Protection”, “East Side Of Town” and the fabulous, brooding “West Memphis”. This as she lay speaks of how they do things down there by way of the story of how three people were wrongly convicted, and how nobody would listen and of false evidence. Spiced with superb harmonica it bleeds strength of character. Although the song could have been bigger with additional lyrics, an opportunity missed? Possibly. Better in content being the dreamy “Wrong Number” and crisp “Stand Right By Each Other” as Lucinda explains how it has to be if things are going to work out, and by all account life is good right now for her. Going back to the song to close the album, “Magnolia” (JJ Cale) at eight minutes it is too long, and less impressive than the only other cover on the record. Her conversion of a poem of her father, poet Miller Williams “Compassion”. Which tends to drag, dirge-like on occasions the strength of the piece gets to rise, fiercelessly as she lays down the rules where compassion is concerned.   

 

                                                            Maurice Hope     

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1
Rod Picott
70 pts.
Out Past The Wires
Welding Rod Music
GC,AN,LM,SZ,TK
2
JW Roy & The Royal Family
62 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
EM,PJ,DH
3
Steph Cameron
61 pts.
Daybreak over Jackson Street
Pheromona
ML
4
JD McPherson
54 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
AR,RK,LK
5
Sarah Morris
53 pts.
Hearts In Need Of Repair
Independent
 
6
Turnpike Troubadours
52 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
MA,GF
7
Chris Hillman
51 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Rounder
 
8
Hayward Williams
39 pts.
Pretenders
Why River Records
KG,JB,JBO
9
Joe Henry
38 pts.
Thrum
Ear Music
 
10
Jim White
37 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
JJ
12
Margo Price
35 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
 
11
Mark Martyre
35 pts.
Rivers
Independent
MF
13
Mavis Staples
32 pts.
If All I Was Was Black
Anti
HO
 
Peter Oren
32 pts.
Anthropocene
Western Vinyl
RB,HB
15
Fred Wickham
29 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
 
16
Jeffrey Martin
27 pts.
One Go Around
Fluff & Gravy Records
HDB
17
Blitzen Trapper
25 pts.
Wild and Reckless
Lojinx
JDO
 
Jeff Crosby
25 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records
FCE,FC,JS
19
Dori Freeman
24 pts.
Letters Never Read
Blue Hens Music
 
 
Hardpan
24 pts.
Hardpan
Blue Rose Records
WR
21
The Deep Dark Woods
21 pts.
Yarrow
Six Shooter
JF
22
Lilly Hiatt
20 pts.
Trinity Lane
New West
TJ
 
Tom Russell
20 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
JAB
24
Eilen Jewell
19 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
MW
25
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
FS

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