Lucinda Williams is back with her first new material since 2016’s The Ghosts of Highway 20. I featured that album track-by-track on the blog, much to the consternation of some loyal readers.
Ghosts was a very meditative, delicate album, full of sad remembrances and long guitar solos. I think the Trump years have made an impact on Williams, because Good Souls, Better Angels is the opposite — loud, angry, confrontational.
This track, from Lucinda Williams’ 2001 album Essence, is a perfect example of that record’s spare, haunting loveliness.
Like many songs on the album, ‘Are You Down’ has few lyrics and a whole lot of atmosphere. The interplay of guitar and drums on this track has a distinct Dire Straits vibe, which is certainly a good thing in my book.
My list of favorite albums in recent years is so dominated by female artists that it’s a shock to look back at 2001 and see how bro-tastic my tastes were then.
Lucinda Williams’ Essence, my #6 album of that year, is the only work by a woman in my top ten.
Now, in my defense, I haven’t found a lot of strong female contenders among the albums I missed out on in 2001. Maybe it just wasn’t a strong year for women in music. But it is striking, especially coming off of a year when five of my top seven albums were by women.
Lucinda Williams has released a dozen albums during her 38-year career, four in the first 18 years and eight in the last 20. She stepped up the pace after 1998’s Car Wheels On a Gravel Road (still her best album), releasing a record about once every other year.
My guess is that if 2014’s Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone had come after a lengthy hiatus, rather than during the relatively productive streak Williams was on at the time, it would have been received with more critical fanfare.
Our next Montauk Madness matchup pairs off a couple of celebrated veteran singer-songwriters, Paul Simon and Lucinda Williams.
Simon dispatched Elton John in Round One and had an even easier time knocking out Sting in Round Two, with 90% of the vote. Williams faced off against a couple of indie acts, topping Garbage in the first round and picking up 71% to defeat The Shins in Round Two. Continue reading