Posts Tagged ‘Lucinda Williams’

Sharon Van Etten’s career since the release of her second album, 2010’s epic is well-known; critically lauded albums, films, and television shows have continually displayed her expanding artistry. Upon its release, epic laid a romantic melancholy over the gravel and dirt of heartbreak without one honest thought or feeling spared. Her songs covered betrayal, obsession, egotism, and all the other emotions we dislike in others and recognize in ourselves. Van Etten’s grounded and clenched vocals conveyed a sense of hope–the notion that beauty can arise from the worst of circumstances.


The resulting epic Ten is a double LP featuring the original album plus the new album of epic covers and reimagined artwork.

Epic” laid a romantic melancholy over the gravel and dirt of heartbreak without one honest thought or feeling spared. Her songs covered betrayal, obsession, egotism, and all the other emotions we dislike in others and recognize in ourselves. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of this special album’s release, and to acknowledge the convergence of Van Etten’s present and past work, she asked fellow artists she admired to participate in an expanded reissue, where each artist would cover one different song from epic in their own style.

Released April 16th, 2021

Fiona Apple

The music of Sharon Van Etten offers this strangely familiar ethic and aesthetic. She is Patti Smith finishing a pint of Pilsner as the pool cue cracks in the back of the dive bar. 

Van Etten’s newest release, “Epic Ten”, is unlike any other. In one sense, it’s a reissue of her 2010 sophomore record, Epic. But it’s also much more. The reissue includes covers of each song from the original release from such heavyweights as IDLESLucinda WilliamsCourtney Barnett, and Fiona Apple. In this way, “Epic Ten” is two albums at once in a compact 14 tracks, ranging in creative impact from Van Etten’s ghostly harmonies to IDLES’ industrial wallop. 

The record begins with the acoustic-propelled “A Crime.” The lyrics, saturated with anger and remorse, are also breathy, dreamy. But through the sonic lens of Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver’s Big Red Machine, the song is more electric, like a Radiohead song played through a spotty AM radio connection in a beautiful contrast. “Peace Signs” harkens to ’90s rock ‘n’ roll, part Smashing Pumpkins, part Melissa Etheridge. All the while the kick drum bangs. When IDLES take hold on the record’s flip side, that kick portends guttural screams, an explosion. 

On “Save Yourself,” Van Etten sings over slide guitars. There’s a new eeriness to her voice now—she’s the last person in the Dust Bowl, and she has one last song to sing. Lucinda Williams understands this mood, she was once that person, too. And her rendition is elongated, patient, dark. By “Dsharpg,” Van Etten has become the breeze through cracked slats in the attic. She is the sound of one’s own personal church. Shamir laser focuses this vibe and offers a neon blue candle to pray to on his cover.

Mid-album track “Don’t Do It” is reflective. It’s a gritty electric guitar with an angel moaning in the distance. Van Etten is low-eyed, fed up at the heft while also acknowledging there are better days ahead. It’s bad, but not all bad. When sung by Courtney Barnett and Vagabon, the song is up front, close, in your ear. It’s as if Barnett doesn’t feel the song itself is enough at this point. 

On the album’s penultimate track, “One Day,” Van Etten seems to be remembering the important days now in her rearview mirror. It’s a song she might sing in the tour van, the rest of the band strumming guitars, playing tambourines as the highway stretches past. St. Panther takes the song in the direction of bedroom pop, made with a laptop and the buzz from caffeine at three in the morning.

“Love More” has a solid perspective—it’s the song of someone who’s accepted adulthood and the very personal ups and downs that inevitably come along with that. Friends leave, loved ones pass, but the strength to sing can still grow stronger. Though life is dangerous and dramatic, there is hope, if only borne from your own voice. Perhaps no one knows that better than Fiona Apple. For the one who told us to “fetch the bolt cutters,” fame has been painful. Growth out of that is the only medicine, escape. 

Sharon Van Etten’s “Epic Ten” anniversary reissue arrives on digital platforms tomorrow, and now she’s shared the final advance single: a cover of “Love More” by recent Grammy winner Fiona Apple.

The double-disc “Epic” reissue has already spawned several thrilling updates to old songs: Big Red Machine’s “A Crime”, IDLES’ “Peace Signs”, Shamir’s “Dsharpg”, and Courtney Barnett and Vagabon’s “Don’t Do It”. “Love More” is the closing track to both Epic and Epic Ten, and Fiona Apple puts her mark on the song right from the beginning with newly-added claps and hand drums. Where the original derived its atmospheric power from pulsing synths and the sparing use of percussion, Apple’s take comes with gentle pianos and insistent heartbeat drums.

In a statement, Van Etten wrote about the darkness that inspired “Love More”, and how Apple’s version reframes the song with “the hope it deserves.” She said,

“The emotional rawness and visceral angst and honesty of Fiona Apple’s music was first met by my teenage years, sharing a bedroom with my little sister — who so patiently studied for school as I tried to write, sing, and play guitar in a way I wasn’t ready for yet. Fiona made me want to be a better player. She made me want to have something to say. Although music has always been an important outlet for me, I knew I hadn’t lived like she had. Having no concept of age, I heard her voice as experienced and wise and someone that I wanted to be or to know. I carried her with me.⁣⁣

“The closest we came to meeting was when we played SXSW at Stubbs back to back in 2012 and I teenagerly posed in front of her road case. I dared not overstep the line of comfort at a festival… but her set was incredible. New, and true to herself and vulnerable…⁣⁣
⁣“Love More is the most revealing song about one of the hardest times in my life, and the mark of change. When I admitted I needed help. When I leaned on others and acknowledged my weaknesses, when I was accepted at my lowest of lows, with support, and was able to move on. I was in a dark place when I wrote this song, I was in a safer space when I was able to record it, and now that Fiona’s version will exist in this universe, it helps me feel even farther away from the darkness I had to experience in order to write this song. She brings it life and light. She has given me her hand after all these years… and it is with pure joy to finally share this song in a brand new light by someone I always wished I could be.⁣⁣

“Thank you, Fiona. I admire you so much and now I wish for everyone to hear this song with the hope it deserves. It is so nice to meet you. Xoxo”

In total, Van Etten’s reissue of Epic Ten is a success. She’s achieved the relighting of her past release while doing so with a fresh torch. With hope, the album will burn long and in many hearts.

You can listen to “Love More” below. Epic Ten makes its digital debut tomorrow, April 16th, with physical versions arriving June 11th via Ba Da Bing Records. Besides that, Van Etten will stream an Epic Ten documentary and full-album concert on April 16th and 17th, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Los Angeles venue Zebulon.

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Award-winning, revered singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams is working to help independent music venues during this time with the announcement of Lu’s jukebox.

Scheduled as a six episode series of mostly full-band, hd video performances in-studio, Lu’s jukebox will feature a themed set of songs by other artists curated by the multi-grammy award winner. the first episode kicks off on October 22nd with “Running Down A Dream: a Tribute to Tom Petty”, featuring songs from his celebrated career in advance of his 70th birthday.

Drawing the album art for the cover of this adventure straight from Tom Petty’s album Full Moon Fever, it doesn’t take long to know that you’re in for a sincere treat, and while all of the material is drawn from Petty’s most beloved numbers, you’ll find that these tracks have been bathed and blessed in the waters of Lucinda Williams … meaning that while you’ll recognize each and every one, they’re all now owned by Ms. Williams.

Lucinda commented on these recordings by saying, “We’ve actually wanted to do a cover series for a long time now, but never had the time due to my touring schedule, so I guess the silver lining in all of this (Covid 19) has been to be able to really get inside the songs of some of my favourite artists and see what makes them tick.” With the presentation being drawn from a Lu’s Jukebox live streamed concert (and there will be six more like this in the future).

Lucinda’s chat in between the songs was both insightful as well as heart warming, making it obvious she’s a real fan. Lucinda’s voice is remarkably suited to his repertoire, as she and Tom Petty are both southerners by birth. I do hope at some point you get to view this concert as she has a fabulous band that made this all the more enjoyable to watch. The show came to a sup rinsing conclusion with the new song “Stolen Moments” that Lucinda wrote with Tom in mind, and dedicated it to his widow.

Talk about a match made in heaven! Lucinda opened for Tom Petty at the last concert he played before his death, and they seem like kindred spirits in every sense.
this ‘lu’s jukebox’ series was a string of livestreams she did last fall to benefit music venues during the pandemic, and if there was ever a cause near and dear to my heart, you know that’s it. of course she put together a killer band for the occasion, they sound amazing. a real treat, either artist or just wanna support a good cause.
May be an image of ‎text that says '‎THIRTY ی TIGERS #STORYTELLERS AMERICANAFEST UK 2021 STAYING CONNECTED Hosts: Emily Barker Robert Vincent LIVE PERFORMANCES BY Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Lucinda Williams Blackberry Smoke, The Mavericks, Brent Cobb Charley Crockett, Emily Barker, Lucero Robert Vincent, Darlingside, Tre Burt, John Smith Diana Demuth, Ida Mae JANUARY 26 -9.30 PM Get your tickets now! theamauk.or NN COWBOY Orchard‎'‎

Beast of a lineup, this. It’s happening on my birthday & I always wanted to open for Jason Isbell – so it’ll be a nice start to a fresh trip around the sun. I hope to see you there! Thirty Tigers & Americana Music Association UK

Marvin Country is Marvin Etzioni’s ambitious fourth album. The two-record set hits the streets on April 17, 2012 and features Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle, John Doe, Richard Thompson, Buddy Miller, Maria Mckee, and more. Marvin Etzioni is an American singer, mandolinist, bassist, and record producer, Etzioni is best known as a founder of, and bassist for, the band Lone Justice.

In 2012, Marvin Etzioni released a double album extravaganza: Marvin Country! It featured guest appearances from folks including John Doe, Lucinda Williams, Buddy Miller, Steve Earle, The Dixie Hummngbirds, Murry Hammond, and Richard Thompson. Even old Lone Justice cohorts Maria McKee, Shayne Fontaine, and David Vaught were along for the ride. But, the origins of some of those songs go back two decades.

Marvin issued Marvin Country: Communication Hoedown himself, on cassette in 1992, saying “I was single-handedly trying to bring back cassettes at a time when the industry said they were done. I still liked the analogue sound versus the high glossy digitalness (to coin a new word) of CDs.” It has never had an official release until now.


There’s country, there’s alt. country, and there’s Marvin Country. It’s a magical place, way off the map, populated by back-porch philosophers, hobos, brokenhearted lovers and spacemen and presided over by the man the L.A. Times called “one heck of a songwriter.” Grammy award winner Marvin Etzioni has been known over the years as producer (Counting Crows, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Peter Case), sideman (T Bone Burnett, Dixie Chicks, Grey Delisle) and songwriter (Cheap Trick, Victoria Williams) Even before there was No Depression, Marvin was a co-founder of the seminal roots-rockers Lone Justice. It’s safe to say Marvin is revered in Americana circles worldwide. “Marvin Country!” is his ambitious fourth album, and first in over a decade. The two-record set hits the streets on 16th April. The mandolin man is back. “(Etzioni’s) material ranges from stark folk-based tunes to raw Stone’s-like rockers.”


This time around Marvin lacks his mind blowing poetry & almost makes up the CD set with simple repeatable blues refrains. Yet he is his normal playful self with analogue sound effects, inner jokes, & songs about death & salvation. I hear more Blues & a few Cajun songs than the number of any country style of music. Some other songs are beyond categorization. There are many references about past Country greats as with Pasty Cline & Gram Parson, even the death of Bob Dylan. Don’t worry Bob is still around, but Marvin is thinking about that day that all of us shall meet.

Jesse Malin had a shit year in 2018. His father, former guitarist, and producer all died. So his new album Sunset Kids, his first in four years, could have been a major bummer. Instead, it’s a celebration of survival that finds the New York City hardcore troubadour reflecting on life’s precious and fleeting moments.

“Shining Down” is inspired by Tom Petty’s final performance at the Hollywood Bowl in 2017, which Malin witnessed firsthand. “I act like nothing hurts/The bar becomes a church/A limousine or hearse and you don’t look back,” he sings over jangly Heartbreakers guitars and a euphoric chorus. In “Strangers and Thieves,” he teams up with Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong to memorialize their punk glory days, delivering a blast of power pop that floats along on a curlicue guitar lick. And in “Shane,” Malin salutes the longevity of the hard-drinking Pogues singer Shane MacGowan, blending his nasally whine with that of Americana chanteuse Lucinda Williams.

It’s the presence of Williams, who co-produced the LP with her husband Tom Overby, that ties Sunset Kids together. A master lyricist, she helps Malin refine and focus his own words, especially on the introspective “Room 13” and on their duet “Dead On,” a slashing blues-rocker that evokes Williams’ own kiss-off “Changed the Locks.” The seemingly odd-couple pair — he’s from Queens, she was raised in Arkansas — slap their way through the verses. “You talk like an angel/You spit on the floor,” Williams growls, before Malin answers, “but you look just like the girl next door.”

There’s some repetition on the album, three of the 14 tracks, including “Revelations,” have appeared in various forms on past solo projects, but only fans who’ve followed Malin’s career closely will notice.

“Meet Me at the End of the World Again,” released as a one-off single in 2017, benefits from the redo. Elevated by Catherine Popper’s funky Lower East Side bass groove, it’s a soundtrack to the apocalypse, a command to reconnect before it’s too late, and makes you believe that the P.M.A. (positive mental attitude) that Malin has been preaching for decades just might be enough to save us.

Growing up in Queens, Jesse Malin was all of 10 when he made his first public appearance with a band, performing Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Nite” at his public school—“I spit ketchup for blood,” he remembers with a laugh. He was a member of the Kiss Army in his teens but eventually graduated to punk, forming a band called Heart Attack—all of whose members were under 16—only to be told that punk had already peaked. “We went to an audition night at CBGB and they told us that we missed it all. Bad Brains had broken up, The Ramones were going power-pop, Blondie [was going] disco. They said, ‘Try something new like rockabilly or New Romantics.’ I said, ‘I’m not dressing up like a pirate.’”

He soon discovered that the genre wasn’t dead. It had simply sped up, grown more outspoken and morphed into hardcore, with bands like the Dead Kennedys, Black Flag and the Circle Jerks taking the music to the next level. Heart Attack stayed together for four years, after which Malin founded the band Hope, which carried on until 1989.

But it wasn’t until he joined D Generation that Malin truly became a force to be reckoned with. The band not only opened shows for Kiss but also those other Queens natives, The Ramones (Joey Ramone became a close friend). They released three full length albums, an EP and numerous singles during their initial eight-year run. It was while making their self-titled debut in 1994 that Malin first connected with Bianco, who produced and engineered it. (The second album, No Lunch, was produced by The Cars’ Ric Ocasek, and the third, Through the Darkness, was produced by David Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti.)

“We wanted to make D Generation into a band that we felt we missed; we felt music had become really safe and funky, with people dressed up like they were farmers from Seattle with no style. We wanted to be in a band that was like a gang,” Malin says. The band was respected but never did cut through commercially. “The people that liked us loved us, but we became more of a cult thing and an artist thing. We had a few bad breaks, but also internally it was so intense. It could be like a five-headed love affair or a five-headed war.”

Malin eventually started growing creatively restless. And punk was also moving in a direction he wasn’t entirely comfortable with. “People thought punk was about swastikas and fascism until the Dead Kennedys said, ‘Nazi punks fuck off.’ Sometimes people misunderstand things,” he says.

After the demise of D Generation, Malin cut an album with a band called Bellvue, To Be Somebody, before making the difficult decision to go the solo troubadour route. “It was kind of nervewracking to call it Jesse Malin,” he says. “I was used to hiding behind four other people and writing for four or five other people. But I think there’s a real connection between punk-rock and folk, from Woody Guthrie to The Clash to Bob Dylan to Crass or the Dead Kennedys. It’s about a message and a couple of chords and an attitude. A lot of my friends that heard me do louder stuff would be kind of surprised when I first did more acoustic-based music. I had people going, ‘What the hell?’ But my real friends knew that I had liked Jim Croce and Elton John since I was eight, and Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen since I was 15. I like songs, whatever they are—the craft.”

His highly regarded solo debut, 2002’s The Fine Art of Self Destruction, was produced by D Generation fan Ryan Adams, whom he’d met in 1996. “It was a very personal first record,” Malin says. He followed it with The Heat (2004) and thenGlitter in the Gutter, which featured a guest vocal by none other than Bruce Springsteen, who took note of Malin’s debut.

“I got into Bruce Springsteen late,” he says. “In the ‘80s, I got into Nebraska, and I was like, ‘This guy’s a millionaire and he’s speaking the truth. It’s real and it’s dark and it’s about people on the street, and it’s believable and it’s haunting and it’s so good. And it’s just him alone.’” Springsteen invited Malin to do some holiday shows with him and agreed to lend backing vocals to Malin’s track “Broken Radio.

From there, Malin’s next move was an all-covers set, On Your Sleeve, featuring favourite tunes by classic rockers like Lou Reed, The Clash, The Rolling Stones, Elton John and Paul Simon, and a live album, Mercury Retrograde. His next full studio album, Love It to Life, arrived in 2010; that same year, he and the members of Green Day killed time with a short-lived band they called Rodeo Queens, releasing one song, “Depression Times.” His five-year break between solo albums was alleviated when a reunited D Generation released their first new album in 17 years. That band also embarked on a well-received tour with stops in London and the U.S., among them a couple of shows opening for Guns N’ Roses. One observer of the tour was Lucinda Williams, who had never seen D Generation during their heyday.

“It was a whole different side of Jesse,” Williams says, “and he was amazing. He had his shirt off, like Iggy Pop, and his microphone cord was long enough that he was able to go all the way to the bar from the stage and drink a shot of tequila and still make it back to the stage. He was great.”

Now 51, Jesse Malin still lives in Manhattan’s East Village. “I tried living in Los Angeles but, if you walk in LA, they think you’re a male prostitute,” he says. These days, he can often be found, wearing his trademark suspenders and newsboy cap, at one of the bars or clubs he owns a stake in. “We try to keep a little bit of old New York, New York going somehow,” he says about the establishments, which include popular destinations like Bowery Electric, Lola, Niagara and Cabin Down Below. “Going back to Queens and Brooklyn and places that I tried desperately to get out of, it’s strange to me that there’s now art galleries and gluten-free donuts. But I like that stuff, too. I just love making music and talking about music, then having a few drinks and talking even more.”

As Sunset Kids (titled after a children’s shop in LA—he liked the name, which nodded to his recent losses and nocturnal nature) began making its way out to fans, Malin was looking beyond his own neighbourhood, though. “We’re going to do a lot of touring behind this record,” he says. “It’s a privilege to play live after you’ve worked on a record; it’s an exorcism for me to get up there each night over some dirty microphone and spit out whatever it is. So I’ll be doing a bunch of touring around the world—Europe and Japan and the States—and then another record. I want to do something pretty quiet next time and really keep it intimate. And then I want to do a very physical record— something that can be played live. I want to make something that I can move my body to and that’s just completely fun and rhythmic but still aggressive. That’s what I’m thinking now. In between, as Warren Zevon said, I just want to enjoy every sandwich.”


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To paraphrase one of her most evocative lyrics, there’s something about what happens when you listen to a Lucinda Williams song. The plain but cultivated beauty of her phrase-turning draws you in, but it’s another quality that makes a novice listener into an ardent fan. It’s the feeling of watching something grow like a flower on a vine: a recollection, a fully fleshed-out image, a person’s inner life unfolding. Williams crafts words and melodies that seem to originate in the listener’s own head, capturing the way stray observations and building reveries intertwine to become the stories we tell ourselves and each other. Her songs bring to mind the way William Carlos Williams (no relation) described the task of writing poetry: “We’re not putting the rose, the single rose, in the little glass vase in the window — we’re digging a hole for the tree — and as we dig have disappeared in it.”

Williams, who releases her 14th studio album “Good Souls Better Angels” today, was born to this process. Her father Miller was, in fact, a poet and a literature professor, and after a youth moving around the Deep South, she modified the family trade to become a singer-songwriter. A folk singer at first, Williams broke through in the late 1980s in the wake of a group of artists — Rosanne Cash, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, Lyle Lovett — who took rock and roll chances with roots-music legacies. A critics’ pick and songwriter’s songwriter who gained some fame when Mary Chapin Carpenter had a crossover country hit with her song “Passionate Kisses” in 1993, Williams became a true legend with the 1998 release of “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” a perfect work of observational storytelling that both defined the nascent Americana genre and instantly transcended it, because no one could write both so personally, it seemed, and with such talent for reaching inside fans’ own souls. I remember when I first got Car Wheels” ,Every evening I’d listen, making dinner, my solitary thoughts filtered through Willliams’s voice like the twilight through my row house’s back window.

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Williams’s testimonies to survival despite hard living and lost opportunities, and her elegies for absent friends and lovers, connect her to the blues, the form for which she first fell. From country music she learned the practice of turning glimpses of the private — a pot of coffee bubbling, the lines at the edges of a beloved’s eyes — into metaphors through which life reveals itself. From rock she took freedom, an obsession with self-determination that defined her persona and her career-long practice of doing exactly what she wants, the demands of the marketplace be damned. She stirred up these influence within her own sound, also incorporating New Orleans rhythms and classic rock attitude, working with bands who could move within her greasy grooves. She favors hot guitar players as dialogue partners. Always, she keeps things real: her songs sound like what people wish they could say to each other, and only sometimes do.

“Car Wheels” was Williams’s fifth album. It’s just one apex in a career that’s unfolded more like an Appalachian ridgeline, with dazzling high points and dips into deep woods and hollows, than the flat roads of her native delta. To really understand Williams’s catalouge, start with “Car Wheels” and continue both backward and forward. It’s crucial to spend time with the peace-seeking laments of 1992’s “Sweet Old World”, the edgy sexiness of 2003’s “World Without Tears”, and the ever-rawer rock mantras that typify the sound she’s cultivating now, at 67. With the hindsight that recognizes the limits of musical categories, a dive into the Lucinda Williams catalouge reveals that she is as spiritually aligned with defiant originals like Patti Smith, or indie inheritors like Katie Crutchfield and Alynda Lee Segarra, as with her Americana peers. Most of all, Williams is a singular artist with a resolutely personal voice that feels, to many people, like home.

Here’s a playlist for people who already love Lucinda Williams and for those who want to know more about her.

“Car Wheels On a Gravel Road” from: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (1998)
The title track of her album masterpiece, an impressionistic account of the fugitive childhood Williams’s academic father gave her, contains everything great about this songwriter: resonant details, a unique but relatable perspective, and deep feeling rising through everyday talk like humid summer steam.

“Passionate Kisses” from: Lucinda Williams (1988)
Mary Chapin Carpenter’s version won Williams a 1994 Grammy for best country song; her own showcases a drawl as redolent of Mick Jagger as To Kill a Mockingbird‘s Scout Finch.

“Sweet Old World” from: Sweet Old World (1992)
Every great songwriter has one ballad anyone would want played at their funeral; this is Williams’s, a melancholy ode to the human tenderness that makes life worth living, and accepting a loved one’s death so hard.

“Joy” from: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (1998)
From Slidell, La. to West Memphis, Ark., Williams chases down the happiness a betrayer stole in one of her fiercest and most defiantly triumphant rockers.

“Essence” from: Essence (2001)
The 2001 album with this title track was sonically subdued and deeply sexy in tone, never moreso than on this pheromone daydream, the epitome of Williams’s erotic expressionism.

“Fruits of My Labor” from: World Without Tears (2003)
Williams turns the classic slow blues that’s so often inspired her into a nearly psychedelic reverie – like the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields meets an Anne Rice vampire novel – in this missive from a woman of means to the lover who knew her when.

“Are You Alright” from: West (2007)
Empathy for the lost and the marginalized runs through Williams’s songwriting, and this gentle secular hymn for someone who’s gone missing offers it in heartbreaking measure.

“Man Without a Soul” from: Good Souls Better Angels (2020)
Williams has evolved to become a powerful protest singer, and she’s never been so bold as in this Springsteenesque broadside directed at Donald Trump.

“Changed the Locks” from: Lucinda Williams (1988)
This barn burner, one of many Williams songs about claiming power in the face of abuse, is catnip for other rockers — Tom Petty, indie mainstays the Silos and Australian country maverick Kasey Chambers have all covered it.

“Side of the Road” from: Lucinda Williams (1988)
Another from her essentially flawless Rough Trade debut, this meditation on the need to spend time alone with one’s own imagination is an artist’s manifesto that informed Williams’ own career and which nourishes any creative soul who hears it.

“Something About What Happens When We Talk” from: Sweet Old World (1992)
The originality of Williams’s mind shines on this vulnerable ballad about the aphrodisiacal charge of meaningful conversation.

“2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten” from: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (1998)
“Junebug vs. Hurricane”: Williams saw that phrase scrawled on a wall in a photograph from Birney Imes’s book Juke Joint and expanded it into a song about the glories of those rural makeshift bars. Since then, others have named memoirs, blogs and cocktails after it, and even had it tattooed onto their arms. Her language resonates.

“Get Right With God” from: Essence (2001)
Gospel music is a central, if underdiscussed, inspiration for Williams. Here she makes the connection clear in a driving account of faith’s relationship to audacity and risk. The song inspired one of her most astounding vocal performances.

“Unsuffer Me” from: West (2007)
Williams is a master of parataxis — the poetic technique of stringing short phrases together in what literary scholars call “iconic ordering” (think the biblical Beatitudes, or Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”). Here she uses an almost heavy-metal musical approach to serve it, her lyrics enacting a seduction that’s really a cry for spiritual release.

“If My Love Could Kill” from: Ghosts of Highway 20 (2016)
Though her songs encompass the full range of human emotions, Williams is often painted as a lady of sorrow — and indeed, she has always confronted grief unflinchingly. Never has that process been as personal as in this song mourning the loss to Alzheimer’s of her father and lifelong mentor, poet Miller Williams, set within a gorgeous, Spanish-tinged arrangement.

“Little Angel, Little Brother” from: This Sweet Old World (2017)
Williams reimagined 1992’s Sweet Old World through new recordings in 2017, the songs reinvigorated within new arrangements and by her more worn, still powerful vocals. A highlight is this achingly compassionate expression of love and loss, a song for anyone who’s cared about someone they can’t save.

“I Lost It” from: Happy Woman Blues (1980)
The original version of a song that became a fierce rocker on Car Wheels shows Williams’s foundational connection to Louisiana music, here embodied by a Cajun fiddle and a two-step beat.

“I Envy the Wind” from: Essence (2001)
So much of Williams’s work comes alive within very particular, deeply shaded worlds, but this is her secret pop classic: The lyric that imagines nature itself as a lover’s companion complements the song’s unchained melody to render it timeless. Elvis or Billie would have sung this song if they could have.

“Those Three Days” from: World Without Tears (2003)
Few writers of any kind can match Williams when it comes to brutal honesty about the violence of desire. This noirish, countryish confession assesses the scars a fling can leave in a vulnerable heart, and the rawness of Williams’s vocal is remarkably courageous.

“The Temporary Nature of Every Precious Thing” from: Down Where Spirit Meets the Bone (2014)
The first two lines of this slow gospel vamp sum up Williams’s philosophy and artistic motivation: “The temporary nature of any precious thing, that just makes it more precious.”

“Soldier’s Song” from: Blessed (2011)
Maybe her most chilling song, this spare story song traces a fighter’s last moments on the battlefield in counterpoint with the beautiful mundanity of his family’s daily activities back home.

“We’ve Come Too Far To Turn Around” from: Vanished Gardens (2018)
Facing pain, believing in joy, investing in survival: This transcendent collaboration with octogenarian saxophonist Charles Lloyd and his band the Marvels captures everything that makes Lucinda Williams an essential companion on life’s road.

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The new “Good Souls Better Angels!”, which Lucinda Williams recorded in just over 15 days in the fall of 2019, is another landmark release, though it might not do much to further expand her fan base. Largely co-written by Williams and her husband Tom Overby, it’s a challenging album that makes few if any concessions to achieve commercial success. And don’t look to this record for Williams to deliver any “Passionate Kisses” (the title of a popular early number); her mood here is much more often angry and foreboding than romantic.

Three-time Grammy Award winner Lucinda Williams unabashedly takes on some of the human, social and political issues of our day with her boldest and most direct album to date, Good Souls Better Angels.

During the course of her celebrated four-decade, pioneering career Williams has never rested on her laurels as she continues to push herself as a songwriter. On Good Souls Better Angels, she has much she needs to get out. In 2014 and 2015, Williams released two critically acclaimed double albums back to back with Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone and The Ghosts Of Highway 20, respectively. Both releases found her experimenting with arrangements, vocals, song structure and personal subject matter.

On Good Souls Better Angels, Williams changes course and chooses to forgo the personal and narrative-based song craft that has become synonymous with her name and instead speaks to some of the injustices permeating our society. The new songs cut straight to the core with frank and honest commentary on domestic abuse (Wakin’ Up), the constant barrage of news (Bad News Blues) the dangerous, quick to judge and convict aspects of social media (Shadows and Doubts) and the haunting reality of the Man Without A Soul.

Williams recorded Good Souls Better Angels backed by her remarkable, long time band, featuring Butch Norton (drums), Stuart Mathis (guitar) and David Sutton (bass). The rock-solid unit propels the music with both fire and finesse, particularly on the raw blues number You Can’t Rule Me, which kicks off the album with equal parts attitude and swing.

Good Souls Better Angels also features some of Williams’ most intimate and up front vocals on record. She addresses the pain of depression on the achingly beautiful Big Black Train and tenderly delivers a poignant song of hope with When The Way Gets Dark. She encourages us to push forward on the path of promise and perseverance on the deeply soulful and moving album closer Good Souls. Good Souls Better Angels marks the first time Williams’ husband / manager Tom Overby is credited as a co-writer on many of the new songs. The album was co-produced by Williams, Overby and Ray Kennedy, who last worked with Williams on her 1998 landmark classic album Car Wheels On A Gravel Road.

Williams recorded Good Souls Better Angels backed by her remarkable, long time band, featuring Butch Norton (drums), Stuart Mathis (guitar) and David Sutton (bass). The rock-solid unit propels the music with both fire and finesse, particularly on the raw blues number You Can’t Rule Me, which kicks off the album with equal parts attitude and swing.

Good Souls Better Angels also features some of Williams’ most intimate and up front vocals on record. She addresses the pain of depression on the achingly beautiful Big Black Train and tenderly delivers a poignant song of hope with When The Way Gets Dark. She encourages us to push forward on the path of promise and perseverance on the deeply soulful and moving album closer Good Souls. Good Souls Better Angels marks the first time Williams’ husband / manager Tom Overby is credited as a co-writer on many of the new songs. The album was co-produced by Williams, Overby and Ray Kennedy, who last worked with Williams on her 1998 landmark classic album Car Wheels On A Gravel Road.

The songs on Good Souls, while a perfect snapshot of enlightened anger, aren’t all brand new. The sludgy blues tune “Bone Of Contention” dates back to 2005, just missing the cutoff for the alt-country troubadour’s 2007 album West. “You’re the splinter in my finger / you’re the knife in my back / you’re the bone of contention,” Williams sings in her signature snarl that has made her a legend in the eyes of so many, sounding more furious than she ever has before. That fury is what makes this album, even the songs that were written a few years earlier, so topical. Similar to the way Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters has resonated so fiercely just a week ahead of Williams’ Good Souls Better Angels, these songs weren’t written about our current state of frenzied pandemic panic, but their arrival during spring 2020 gives them an especially clairvoyant air. A rebellious spirit is certainly seeping out from every angle on Good Souls Better Angels. “You can’t rule me,” Williams declares right out of the gate. She also bemoans the relentless news cycle on “Bad News Blues,” laments the content of those news cycles on “Big Rotator,”

She scorns evil men “of hate, envy and doubt” over a swirling vortex of guitar feedback on “Man Without A Soul.” While there’s one “man” in particular who lyrics like “You bring nothing good to this world / Beyond a web of cheating and stealing / You hide behind your wall of lies” may call to mind, it’s not necessarily a slam of Potus specifically—but it sure does work well as one.

Lucinda Williams is the opposite of every Boomer stereotype. She’s politically enraged, and she’s certainly not worthy of the “out of touch” label slapped on many Boomers.

On this new album Good Souls Better Angels, and during a recent phone call, she sounds just as fed up with everything as millennials are. “It’s pervasive—that feeling that you’re always getting, of being astounded and shocked and pissed off,” Williams, now 67 years of age, says. “I’m mad. I’m frustrated.” The songs on Good Souls, while a perfect snapshot of this enlightened anger, aren’t all brand new. Williams, one of the most decorated songwriters in Americana music, describes this phenomenon as “ironic.”

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Multi-Grammy Award winner Lucinda Williams addresses a subject that affects millions with the release of her emotional new song, “Big Black Train”. The track appears on her highly anticipated new album Good Souls Better Angels, out April 24th via Highway 20/Thirty Tigers.

The song’s title works as a metaphor for depression, and Williams compassionately articulates some of the fears and feelings that engulf those who are affected by it.  Through lyrics such as, I can hear it comin’ from miles away, Last time through it took me far away, Didn’t know if I was ever comin’ back and the solemn plea, I don’t wanna get on board, Williams masterfully connects the emotional weight of the condition to the overwhelming power of the “Big Black Train”. “Good Souls Better Angels” finds the acclaimed singer/songwriter zeroing in on some of the human and socio-political issues of our day with bold, forthright commentary and an urgency like never before. Just listen to the unabashed “Man Without A Soul” or the empowering “You Can’t Rule Me” to get a sense of where Williams stands at this stage of her celebrated four-decade career. She remains as vital a musical force as ever.

Lucinda Williams’ new album Good Souls Better Angels comes out next month, and she’s shared another new single from it, the lovely, torchy “Big Black Train,” whose title she says is a metaphor for depression. Lucinda Williams will release her new LP Good Souls Better Angels on April 24th.

Highway 20 Records marketed and distributed by Thirty Tigers.

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.