Track five of Disc Two promises to shift the tone a little bit from the more upbeat (comparatively) songs we’ve heard so far this week. ‘If My Love Could Kill’ is about her father’s death after a battle with Alzheimer’s.
I understand the criticism of those who find the songs too slow, or Williams’ vocals too slurred, but I don’t share it. Williams’ voice is like Bob Dylan’s in that it’s not technically great but it’s exactly the right instrument for her songs.
‘Factory’ is a song from Springsteen’s 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town, and its story of a man who toils away at a factory fits in nicely with the rustic sadness of the rest of this album. Williams recorded the track as a tribute to her father-in-law, who held a job a lot like the one described in the song.
Disc Two, Song Two. After the epic title track, Lucinda offers up a little country blues ditty about a busted love affair. It seems Disc Two is definitely more upbeat than Disc One (musically, anyway… I don’t think we’re getting any lyrically upbeat songs on this album!).
This is the most fun song on the record so far, and another fine showcase of the guitar work by Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz.
Highway 20 is a stretch of road that touches on all of these sad southern stories, all of this grace and pain, and Williams can look back and vividly recollect every mile. Williams counts Flannery O’Connor as an influence, and that southern gothic quality is all over this album.
Williams recalls her own childhood in Louisiana with sweet nostalgia. She paints a picture of carefree days spent mostly outside, and loving parents who got angry only over little things like spilled milk or a slamming screen door.
Overby has posted lengthy write-ups of every song on the album to Williams’ Facebook page over the past few weeks, offering insight into the recording process and origin of each. I wish every artist would do that.