Album | Lucinda Williams – Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone

Lucinda williamsLucinda has surely cemented her eternal place with the greats of country blues rock over the past years. Having recently got married you might forgive her for laying low and having a quiet time of it. Not so, for the return of the 61 year old sees her releasing surely her most ambitious project thus far, a double album. Not only that, but a mighty fine one.

It can be split into two, but it’s one work, and it’s hard not to loop what is already a long listen. Part one is a remarkable feat and up there with her best ever material. It’s peerless, effortless, sublime, one track after another. Part two doesn’t dip somehow and the standard set by the first part is matched and shines equally. By this stage you realise Lucinda hasn’t just challenged herself to produce something colossal, but she has pulled it off and gifted her fans a genuinely very special treat. Put together, as a near two hour set it might just be her finest achievement. It’s certainly right up there. Her voice is as lived in and pretty, as soaked with love as ever. Her songs are what we have come to expect, only somehow even more elegant and charming.

The musicianship is fittingly warm, cocooning Lucinda’s  husky, gravelled tones, blessing every song to perfection. These guys completely know, instinctively how to dress up Lucinda’s songs and get the most out of them. It’s breathtaking to listen to song after song.

There are ferocious moments when it feels like Lucinda is getting it all out, emptying the emotional bank of all those years, the pain and love and passion of her whole life, she’s putting right the wrongs of the world, or at the very least successfully questioning them. She plays many parts here, a lover, a wise soul, a storyteller, a country blues star, and many more. More than anything she plays the woman with heart on sleeve, singing to save us all, and of course herself. It’s spectacular, hard to put into words quite how well executed this whole project is. If you knew Lucinda’s previous work and appreciated her song writing you are truly in for one of the biggest thrills of the year. Of any year for that matter. It’s such an admirable album, as with albums from Dylan and Waits and Cohen it goes further to prove that a good album has zilch to do with age. It genuinely feels like her career masterpiece, it possesses so much beauty over the almost two hours.

Lucinda is one hell of a reliable artist. She feels like a place to go to to feel safe, loved, inspired, and it results in feeling privileged. There’s a remarkable warmth bleeding from these tracks, an essence of truth and life in her voice. The way one might feel about Dylan. That voice, that everybody should hear, she’s on fire here. The tenderness and rawness that her voice drips with is the ultimate treat of the record. It isn’t often a double album is released and doesn’t need shortening or wouldn’t even work better as a single record, but this set needs all 20 beautiful tunes and nothing less.

The album doesn’t just show off her stunning song composition but you would be hard pressed to find a better singer. She is undeniably one of the great female artists of the past 30 years or so and she is Americana itself, the very personification. Her batteries are clearly charged, as much as they’ve ever been, if not more. Based on this showing, she could continue doing this for some time to come, and that is all we can hope for.

In the end, it feels like she can go anywhere from here and do anything she wants. There are no highlights, the whole thing is pure light. This is an astonishing artist who has once more made a magnificent work of art, probably her best yet. Go and find out for yourselves, NOW!