‘Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone’
Lucinda Williams (Highway 20)
4.5 stars out of 5
Over the course of a career that’s spanned parts of five decades, rootsy singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams has managed to remain vibrant and relevant in cementing her status as a true Americana icon. She’s been one of my favorites since the first time I heard her 1998 masterpiece “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” and I’ve seen her perform live at least half a dozen times.
Latest studio effort “Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone” is her 12th overall and first for her own Highway 20 label. The two-disc, 20-track set also ranks among Williams’ best albums to date. Her distinctive vocals and killer songwriting keep listeners enthralled for 103 intoxicating minutes. In spite of the mammoth running time, the momentum never wanes. No worries about being bored with Lucinda.
“I felt like I was really on a roll when we stated working on this album,” the 61-year-old Williams says. “I usually have enough songs to fill an album, and maybe a couple more, but when I started writing for this, the inspiration just kept coming, and the people I was working with kept telling me the songs were worth keeping. I felt like I was really in a groove here.”
The centerpiece of “Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone” is the gut-wrenching “West Memphis,’ which chronicles the story of the wrongly-convicted West Memphis Three, and Williams also soars on “Burning Bridges,” “Cold Day in Hell,” “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” “When I Look at the World,” “Everything But the Truth” and sprawling closer “Magnolia.” Highly recommended. (Jeffrey Sisk)