Good Souls Better Angels
Highway 20/Thirty Tigers
Angry and Melancholic Songs To Paint Vivid Pictures and Scar Your Soul Too.
Lucinda Williams managed to kick start Alt. Country and has set the bench mark TWICE*, yet after all these years; 41 and counting; she still divides opinion among the Americana cognoscenti; most of whom either haven’t listened to her last 5 albums (or first 3?) or if they have they only want her to repeat Car Wheels or West over and over again, ad infinitum.
Then there are others; who hang on her every release with baited breath; handling the review CD like a vinyl fetishist would something he’s just paid £25 for; then sitting back in a darkened room until totally immersed in the experience befitting a crafts-woman and her Art.
Or perhaps that’s just me!
I wasn’t actually prepared for the Blues Blast that is album opener You Don’t Own Me. I probably should have been; as this is a-typical Lucinda; powerful, intense and every line snaps at you like hungry Alsatian dog on a tight leash. Long term fans will be pleased to know that ‘the band’ are still here; Butch Norton (drums), Stuart Mathis (guitar) and David Sutton (bass) and as usual; come together to compliment and make a great singer exceptional.
Now I’ve mentioned her voice; perhaps that’s what divides music fans? It’s certainly not opera or show tunes quality, is it? Nope…… it’s the sound of a woman who has lived life to the full; and then some …… and that comes across in her writing and co-writing too; which combine like leather and lace on the mellifluous Big Black Train and the tragically beautiful, When The Way Gets Dark.
With age comes wisdom; and Lucinda uses that wisdom to great effect on the evocative Shadows and Doubts which redefines ‘break up songs’; and on Bone of Contention she takes a tentative step into Leonard Cohen territory with her words, but the band sound like Nirvana on amphetamines!
Before I get around to telling you what my Favourite Song is; there are a couple of contenders that certainly deserve a ‘mention in despatches’ ……… Lucinda sounds like she’s winding herself up like a coiled spring on Down Past the Bottom; and for a song written many months ago just may be the Soundtrack to Coronavirus Lockdown!
The title track Good Souls is as soft and gentle as I think I’ve ever heard Lucinda before; and it is quite the perfect way to close this fabulous collection.
Good Souls was very, very nearly the Favourite Song here; and it just may be the one I actually go to the most; but Wakin’ Up; with that funky bass line from David Sutton is ‘special’ in many disparate ways and although that’s definitely Lucinda singing; it’s so unlike everything else here and what’s come before it over the decades; it’s almost Punk …. yep, it IS Punk; and I salute Lucinda Williams for daring to record something so daring and provocative at this stage of her career.
What else is there to say about this album and, indeed Lucinda Williams? She is who she is; and damn the rest …….. she no longer looks for commercial success which allows her the freedom to release music like this ……. music that is both beautiful and melancholic, painting vivid pictures in my head …….. and scarring my Soul too.
*Car Wheels on a Gravel Road AND West both changed our conceptions regarding the complicated Country genre of music. FACT.