Posts Tagged ‘Lucinda Williams’

Next time you feel the need to reach for a ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get does-exactly-what-is-says-on-the-tin’ record you could, in all honesty not do a lot better than Jesse Malin’s new album ‘Sunset Kids’. This is a great album of 14 hugely enjoyable songs.

Jesse Malin is assiduous in his collaborations here, balancing his alter-egos beautifully – letting his punk predilections run through with veins of classic rock and country. The record is produced by Lucinda Williams who co-writes and joins Malin on ‘Room 13’. The story goes that the idea of Williams producing the record started when she invited him to see her open for what turned out to be Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ final concert. The two share a love of Lou Reed and the Stones and goodness me have they channelled that here. Take the opening track ‘Meet Me At The End Of The World Again’, it saunters in on a rolling Bruce Hornsby piano figure before hefting a bullish vocal akin to Alabama 3 and ‘Woke up This Morning’, it then lifts to the kind of chorus that has brought Sheryl Crow a career of top 40 hits. It is magnificent earworm stuff that is hard to resist. So maybe it is a little unfair to describe these songs as an amalgam of other songs and artists, but in a world when very little is new there is a pleasure in appreciating how the tunes on this record are hewn from the rock of history with such a craftsman’s chiselling. Next up, the pace alters for ‘Room 13’, one of two Williams co-writes. It opens the door to a more country influence with reverb-soaked, shimmering guitar of the kind that made ‘Unknown Legend’ a classic. And those influences keep on bursting through and compounding the pleasure: ‘Promises’ is like a Stones/Young collaboration- imagine ‘Waiting On A Friend’ sung by Neil Young.

Jesse Malin’s official music video for “Shane (featuring Lucinda Williams)” from his new record Sunset Kids, available now on Wicked Cool Records.

Strangers and Thieves’ is co-written with, and, features a contribution by, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong leveraging Malin’s punk past. The harmony of the punk/roots is evident on ‘Shane’ where the loop is deliciously closed. Malin and Williams offer a tender ballad to one of Malin’s heroes, the massively talented and conflicted Shane MacGowan of The Pogues. “They pulled you out of your hospital bed to take you down to the show” sings Malin and Williams reflecting on the cognitive demands we as an audience press on artists, but Shane is assured that “everybody sends their love”. Deep in the song is a reference to “Playing Death or Glory”, not a MacGowan song of course but, here is the thing, obsessive hoarders of free magazine CDs will remember that back in 2003 Uncut magazine put out two CDs of tributes to the Clash, and yes, on volume two there is Malin delivering a quite wonderful piano-based version of the very same song.

The in studio making of “Shane” from Jesse Malin’s new record “Sunset Kids”, available now on Wicked Cool Records.

Between these gems are yet more sparkling treasures –‘Chemical Heart’ deserves a mention for name-checking Bernie Taupin.  Malin fans will spot three songs, including ‘Revelations’ that have been aired before on other projects. No matter – they all fit together here into a triumph a record which must rank among the best of Malin’s career and among the best of this year. Check this one out for sure.

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“It turns out Lucinda Williams was just getting started when the veteran singer-songwriter rolled out ‘Man Without a Soul,’  That roiling, simmering track, the first new song she’d unveiled in four years, clearly took aim at the current White House occupant (“without dignity and grace,” among other failings), and with no apologies.

Lucinda Williams is out for blood and standing her ground on the surly country rocker “You Can’t Rule Me” which also tips its hat ever so slightly to The Beatles’ “Money Can’t Buy Me Love.” It’s off her upcoming album Good Souls Better Angels that’s out in April. Williams has now unleashed a second track from the album, and it’s even more ornery than its predecessor. “You Can’t Rule Me” is a straight-up blues-bar stomp; Williams’ voice has rarely sounded so beautifully ravaged, and her guitarist, Stuart Mathis, lets rip with slide-guitar solos that match the spittle in her voice.

“You Can’t Rule Me” from Lucinda Williams’ forthcoming album Good Souls Better Angels, available April 24th.

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His third solo album, 2007’s Glitter in the Gutter, saw singer-songwriter Jesse Malin pay tribute to a friend and fellow tunesmith with a song he called “Lucinda.” It took another dozen years, but Malin and that song’s inspiration, Lucinda Williams, have finally found the time to collaborate on a full-length project. Sunset Kids, Malin’s recently released album on Little Steven Van Zandt’s Wicked Cool label, was co-produced by Williams and her husband, Tom Overby, and it’s easily the most potent collection of Malin music since that earlier breakthrough set.

Sunset Kids arrives a full four years after New York Before the War and Outsiders, the pair of albums Malin released during a particularly prolific period in 2015, and three since Nothing Is Anywhere, his 2016 reunion effort with D Generation, the glam-punk band he co-founded in 1991. He hadn’t planned on taking this long to make a follow-up solo recording, but life, as it often does, had other plans for him. One after the other, Malin lost important people in his life, including his father, Paul; his West Coast engineer, David Bianco; former bandmate Todd Youth and others. “When you’re hit with all these heavy things, you either get beaten down or you find a way to jump back,” Malin says. He weathered the losses and chose the latter path.

“When there are hardships, I look to life and I look to music and say, ‘Let’s make the best of it and try to find a way to smile through it a little bit because there’s a lot of dark shit.’ It reminded me of when I made my first solo album and I came out of being in bands,” he adds. “As scary as it was, there was something liberating about it. This batch of songs started to pour out.”

Williams was an obvious choice as producer yet, at the same time, she wasn’t. Malin was born and raised in the New York City borough of Queens and quickly gravitated toward punk and, later, what’s now called Americana. Williams, more than a dozen years his senior, was born in Lake Charles, La., and grew up largely in Arkansas before embarking on a career that has landed her three Grammy wins and another dozen nominations.

Malin recalls first hearing Williams around 20 years ago on a duet she did with Steve Earle, and while neither of them quite remembers where or when they first met—it may have been at a Charlie Watts jazz concert at New York’s Blue Note—at some point, they came into each other’s orbit and a friendship ensued. As Malin began gathering songs for what would eventually become Sunset Kids, the notion of working together popped into his head.

“My manager would come to my house every couple of weeks and say, ‘What do you got?’ and we’d sit around my kitchen table,” he says. “Then, once he felt like we had a good amount of songs, he said, ‘Think about producers.’ That same week, Lucinda Williams had invited me to come out to LA to see her open for what turned out to be Tom Petty’s final concert at the Hollywood Bowl. I said to my manager, ‘What do you think of Lucinda Williams? She’s somebody I really admire and look up to, and it might be an interesting thing.’”

“It just felt real natural,” Williams says. “Tom [Overby] and I had been working in LA with David Bianco, at his studio, and Jesse really liked the sounds we were getting on my albums that I was doing with David. Jesse said, ‘Do you guys want to help me do my next album?’ We said, ‘Yeah, we’d love to.’ But it wasn’t like this out-of-the-blue thing; it happened organically.”

“As people, we’re different,” says Malin about Williams. “We come from such different places. We’ve met up on the road a lot and, if we are in the same town, we’ll go out and listen to music. And Tom is a really great guy. He’s a real fan and a deep listener of music and he had a lot of input in the record.”

Williams’ involvement wasn’t limited to sitting behind the board. She co-wrote two of the album’s key songs, the harmony-rich “Room 13” and the swampy rocker “Dead On,” and contributes vocals to those two as well as “Shane,” the album’s richest ballad. She also offered some sage advice on the lyrical content of the songs, which vary dramatically in style.

“He writes like crazy; he’s so prolific,” Williams says. “He would bring a song to me and have the melody and the structure of the song. He’d have a whole bunch of lyrics and a refrain. He brought ‘Room 13’ to me and said, ‘I’ve got all these lyrics. Can you help me go through and kind of narrow it down?’ So I asked him: ‘What are you trying to say in the song, exactly?’ I wanted to wrap my head around it and get inside of it. We’d go back and forth.”

“She’d be talking about this line or that line,” recalls Malin about the shaping of that same track, “and the next day, she took my six verses and said, ‘These are the three you should use.’ There’s something really open about sitting around with an acoustic guitar and a drink and just going through your stuff. But I was nervous. Even though she’s my friend, I was like, ‘Whoa, the body of work she has.’ But when you have somebody like that it makes you want to do better.”

Once they settled down to actually record, “There were different things going on in different studios,” says Williams. “He was still finishing songs and writing new songs as we were recording.” Most of the music was cut live in the studio, with some overdubbing. Several of Malin’s pals, including Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur, lent a hand with vocal or instrumental parts.

“With her instinct—from being around music or just having that kind of deep soul or some kind of Southern thing—we’d go in and record a song and do three takes,” says Malin. “We’d record to analog tape. Then we would listen and see if we nailed it, and if she was dancing and grooving her hips and moving, then we knew we had a take.” They recorded about 25 songs in all, with 14 finding their way on to the finished album.

“I know I was involved in the album, but Tom and I think this is the best album he’s made,” says Williams.

Jesse Malin’s official music video for “Room 13 (featuring Lucinda Williams)” from his new record “Sunset Kids”, available now on Wicked Cool Records.

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You can only guess who that might be about,” Lucinda Williams said after a scorching performance of her new song “Man Without a Soul” aboard the fifth annual Outlaw Country Cruise last week. A droning, guitar-driven track, the song doesn’t mention its subject directly, but as Williams alluded, it’s impossible to not pin the lyrics to the impeached President Trump.

“You bring nothing good to this world, beyond a web of cheating and stealing/you hide behind your wall of lies, but it’s coming down/yeah, it’s coming down,” she sings in her idiosyncratic drawl, promising that the story, the presidency, or perhaps the life itself of the man in question won’t conclude in any positive way.

“How do you think this story ends? It’s not a matter of how, it’s just a matter of when,” she intones. “‘Cause it’s coming down/yeah, it’s coming down.”

“Man Without a Soul” announces Williams’ latest album, Good Souls Better Angels. Due April 24th via Highway 20/Thirty Tigers, the LP is the follow-up to 2017’s This Sweet Old World (a re-recorded version of Williams’ 1992 album Sweet Old World) and finds the Americana songwriter addressing an array of cultural and political issues, from social media persecution to a nonviable leader. Williams and her husband Tom Overby produced the album with Ray Kennedy, who engineered her 1998 breakout album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.

“Ray was getting these great sounds. He has all this vintage equipment,” Williams told Rolling Stone of the Nashville sessions for the album last year. “It really rocks … a lot of stuff that is blues-rocky, edgy, grungy, and political.”

The first single off Good Souls Better Angels is “Man Without a Soul,”  In fact, it’s an undeniable rock record, shot through with elements of the blues and the crunchy guitar work of Stuart Mathis. Drummer Butch Norton and bassist David Sutton, who make up Williams’ band Buick 6 with Mathis, also play on the album.

During the Outlaw Country Cruise, Williams played two full concerts, peppering her sets with new songs off Good Souls Better Angels and staples like 1989’s “Changed the Locks” and Car Wheels‘ “Joy,” along with the brooding “West Memphis,” from 2014’s Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone. She also shared the stage with Steve Earle, Raul Malo, and Jay Farrar for an intimate guitar pull that will be broadcast later on Sirius XM’s Outlaw Country.

Williams is currently on the road and will play a string of dates in Florida this week with Jesse Malin opening. Williams and Overby produced Malin’s latest album Sunset Kids.

Lucinda Williams will release her new album ‘Good Souls Better Angels’ on April 24th.

Jesse Malin considers his video for the new track “Room 13” premiering exclusively below from his upcoming Lucinda Williams-produced album Sunset Kids, an impressionistic “little tribute” to some favorite films, including Midnight Cowboy and Paris, Texas.

Directed by Dito Montiel, a friend from the punk rock scene (Gutterboy, Major Conflict) turned filmmaker (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, Empire State, The Clapper), the clip also nods to Malin’s habit of booking himself into hotels to do some songwriting in isolation. The various character plots pay homage to those older films and feature cameos from friends such as Malin’s D Generation bandmate Howie Pyro, the Dickies’ Leonard Graves Phillips and more.

“It was just a great time to make a video in there with (Montiel) and his eye,” Malin says, “Hotels are a place I sometimes go to write in to get that blank canvas feeling. It’s just this empty space. We’re in such a world with distractions, your phone and computer and all the social media. Sometimes if you get far away, in another time zone, you’re in a place where you’re forced to deal with yourself, thinking about that matters in life, who you care about, what really sticks when there isn’t as much noise to deal with. That’s what I’m getting at there.”

“Room 13” is also special to Malin because it’s the first song he and Williams worked on for Sunset Kids, which is due out August. 30th. The two have been friends for years, since Malin’s days in D Generation, and while having dinner in Los Angeles during the summer of 2017 (after Williams opened for the late Tom Petty’s final concert at the Hollywood Bowl), they began talking about having her produce Malin’s next project.

“Then Tom Petty’s (death) happened, and then what happened in Las Vegas (the Route 91 Harvest Festival shootings), and there was a very heavy emotional kind of pause for everybody,” Malin recalls. He and Williams finally got together, with engineer David Bianco, the next February and began working on songs, knocking out “a handful” and continuing to write throughout 2018, negotiating their two schedules as they crafted the 15-track album. “She has a real fearlessness and attention to detail — just a combination of hard work and gut instinct,” Malin says of Williams. “She’s very free, and I think there’s something to that, but yet really worked hard on the writing and crafting of the songs. Every time I’d see her I would have a couple new songs, and if they hit her she’d go with her instinct. ‘Listen to your heart’ was something I got from her, don’t be so over-analytical. We’d do three takes of a song and then go into the control room and see if we nailed it, and it was like, if she was moving her hips to it, that was the one we went with.”

Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, another old friend, co-wrote and sings on the Sunset Kids‘ track “Strangers and Thieves,” while Joseph Arthur appears on three tracks. Malin will be doing some dates this summer with Justin Townes Earle and with Arthur, while an album release show is slated for Sept. 14 at Webster Hall in New York City. And while Sunset Kids‘ title is a salutary reference to Petty and other artists and friends who have passed away while the album was being made, Malin says there’s also an implied salute to those who are still around.

“We all have people we look to, like Keith Richards — of all the people, this guy keeps going,” Malin says with a chuckle. “I sang at Shane MacGowan’s 60th birthday party thinking ‘Oh, this guy’s not going to make it,’ and he’s still here singing — and drinking. And from the hardcore scene…New York was a pretty tough place. A lot of us came from dysfunctional families that didn’t give you the tools to deal with pain and stuff. So when you see anybody who’s still here and made it through, that makes me happy.

Jesse Malin’s official music video for “Room 13 (featuring Lucinda Williams)” from his new record Sunset Kids, available August 30th on Wicked Cool Records.

Lucinda Williams recently sat down with Jessie Scott to talk about the 20th anniversary of her groundbreaking album ‘Car Wheels On A Gravel Road’. Williams is touring with her band in celebration of the 20 years of the songs like “Jackson” and “Drunken Angel” which she played and recorded for a session at Colin Linden’s Nashville studio.

It was her fifth studio album by the singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams. It was recorded and co-produced by Williams in Nashville, Tennessee and Canoga Park, California, before being released on June 30th, 1998, by Mercury Records. The album features guest appearances by Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris. It was Willams’ first album to go gold, She also won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album, and received a nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for the single “Can’t Let Go”.

Lucinda Williams makes this whole music thing seem so simple: Write in plain language about the people and places that crowd your memory; add subtle flavors of a mandolin here, a Dobro there, perhaps an accordion or slide guitar; above all, sing as honestly and naturally as you can. Of course, it took her six years to achieve this simplicity, an amazing achievement considering the number of knobs that were turned. Her exquisite voice moans and groans and slips and slides–she delivers a polished tone in a coarse manner. On the superb “Concrete and Barbed Wire”, soft acoustic guitars are punctuated by electric slide, accordion, mandolin, and Steve Earle’s harmony. Williams’s deeply personal stories are matched with bluesy rumbles, raunchy grooves, and plaintive whispers. The entire Deep South is reduced to a sleepy small town filled with ex-lovers, dive bars, and endless gravel roads.

Williams’s evocations of rural rootlessness–about juke joints, macho guitarists, alcoholic poets, loved ones locked away in prison, loved ones locked away even more irreparably in the past–are always engaging in themselves. And they mean even more as a whole, demonstrating not that old ways are best,

It isn’t surprising that Lucinda Williams‘ level of craft takes time to assemble, but the six-year wait between “Sweet Old World” and its 1998 follow-up, “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road”, still raised eyebrows. The delay stemmed both from label difficulties and Williams‘ meticulous perfectionism, the latter reportedly over a too-produced sound and her own vocals. Listening to the record, one can understand why both might have concerned Williams. Car Wheels is far and away her most produced album to date, which is something of a mixed blessing.

Its surfaces are clean and contemporary, with something in the timbres of the instruments (especially the drums) sounding extremely typical of a late-’90s major-label roots-rock album. While that might subtly alter the timeless qualities of Williams‘ writing, there’s also no denying that her sound is punchier and livelier. The production also throws Williams‘ idiosyncratic voice into sharp relief, to the point where it’s noticeably separate from the band. As a result, every inflection and slight tonal alteration is captured, and it would hardly be surprising if Williams did obsess over those small details. But whether or not you miss the earthiness of Car Wheels‘ predecessors, it’s ultimately the material that matters, and Williams‘ songwriting is as captivating as ever. Intentionally or not, the album’s common thread seems to be its strongly grounded sense of place — specifically, the Deep South, conveyed through images and numerous references to specific towns. Many songs are set, in some way, in the middle or aftermath of not-quite-resolved love affairs, as Williams meditates on the complexities of human passion.

The final version of Car Wheels on a Gravel Road was produced by E.Street Band Roy Bittan

Lucinda Williams Re-Recording of the 1992 Album ‘Sweet Old World’ its to be released for its 25th Anniversary.

In a rare instance of an artist taking a full-length reconsideration of an earlier work, Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams will release This Sweet Old World – a complete re-recording of her 1992 album Sweet Old World – via Highway 20/Thirty Tigers on September. 29th.

Produced by Williams and Tom Overby, This Sweet Old World — recorded to mark the 25th anniversary of the original album’s release by Chameleon/Elektra -the set features all-new renditions of the ’92 set’s 12 songs, some of which have been dramatically rearranged and rewritten.

On This Sweet Old World, Williams is supported by her touring and studio band: guitarist Stuart Mathis, bassist David Sutton, and drummer Butch Norton. Longtime collaborator Greg Leisz – who participated in early sessions for the 1992 album, and co-produced Williams’ most recent studio releases, The Ghosts of Highway 20 (2016) and Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone (2014) – contributes spectacular guitar work.

The package is augmented by four newly recorded bonus tracks that harken back to Williams’ early performing career.

 

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Lucinda Williams is the grande dame of modern Southern rock and roll. Over a 30-year career, she’s followed her muse anywhere she damned well pleased, even if it took her seven years to complete a record, as was the case with her masterpiece, “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.” She pulled the title for this expansive two-disc set from the writing of her father, former U.S. Poet Laureate Miller Williams, and that’s telling, because really, that has always been the destination of Lucinda’s deeply searching songwriting. She’s always been trying to dig down to where the spirit meets the bone. One could pick nits, we suppose, about a record that spreads 20 songs over a whopping 104 minutes. But it’s so appealing to listen to one of our best and brightest just follow her spirit. “Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone” is Lucinda Williams’ best record in more than a decade.

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Shakey Graves, Rose-Garcia from Austin, Texas, He plays a gnarly composite of blues and folk as a one-man-band of epic sonic proportions. The sound emitted from his hollow body guitar, mildly distorted amp and suitcase drum belie the young singer’s lean frame. He fingerpicks while keeping time with a double-pedal kick drum, hitting a snare fitted into his suitcase drum and a tambourine fashioned to its side. And when he sings, Rose-Garcia unleashes an unearthly howl. Gritty groans and sexy moans carry his stories of both accepting and trying to overcome personal challenges masked with old-timey Western imagery.