High quality of music, especially intense and great voice
Huge variety of songs
Deep and well-done atmosphere
Some of the tracks are simply too deep and intense to me
Some elements felt disturbing to me
Lucinda Williams is quite a big name in the US music business. The 67-year-old, who made it big in folk and country music, released her fifteenth studio album Good Souls Better Angels on 24th April 2020 – definitely a good reason to have a listen into it!
Lucinda Williams – About The Artist
Lucinda Gayle Williams was born on 25th January 1953 in Lake Charles, Lousiana. Her father is a professor in Literature and also an amateur pianist. She grew up at him since her teenage years, when her parents divorced. Despite she never graduated High School, she was accepted to the University of Arkansas. At that time, she already had quite significant stage experience – her stage debut was at the age of twelve. She grew bigger in her mid-20’s when she became comparably famous in the Austin and Houston area. At the age of 25, she released her debut album Ramblin’ on my Mind, which was majorly a cover album and did only have very limited success. The following 1980 album Happy Woman Blues contained own material and had a low chart ranking in Australia. Her career boosted in the late 1980. After a short episode in Los Angeles, she moved to Nashville and signed at Rough Trade. Her 1988 self-titled album made it to the 39th spot in the US charts. Her best performing album was the 2008 Little Honey, which even topped the Australian charts and made it to the US Top 10.
On the singles side, Williams’ greatest hit is Righteously, which placed in the Top 10 of the US Triple A charts (2003). Another quite important song is the 2001 Essence.Good Souls Better Angels is her fifteenth studio album already. She won three Grammy Awards out of 15 nomination, mainly in the folk genre, where her music moved to over the years.
Good Souls Better Angels – Track by Track
The twelve song album lasts 59 minutes:
1. You Can’t Rule Me
That voice is massive – and the opening song of the album is just a great one, too. It is not the most elaborate song in the history of music, but Williams’ voice just blasts you with power. The old-fashioned, dirty-tuned electric guitar play completes this track in style.
2. Bad News Blues
No matter where I go I can’t get away from it Don’t you know? I’m knee deep in it Who’s gonna believe liars and lunatics? Fools and thieves and clowns and hypocrites Gluttony and greed, and that ain’t the worst of it All the news you could read, all the news is filled to print Yeah
What a nice track – and yeah, it is really blues sound in Bad News Blues. Again, the electric guitar and the catching voice are the key musical elements of the track.
3. Man Without A Soul
Three tracks, three very different characters: Man Without a Soul is a comparably slow song, the vocals often feels like spoken words, which make them feel very intense. The song is very vocal-centric, but the guitars got their time and give the track a big touch of blues rock. 5:31 minutes, by the way – Lucinda Williams’ song are not necessarily all made for the radio stations, only two tracks are less than four minutes.
4. Big Black Train
I don’t wanna get onboard I don’t wanna get onboard I don’t wanna be no special rider I don’t wanna get onboard Big black train Big black train I don’t wanna get onboard That big black train
Just the electric guitars and some background drums very much in the background – the very slow and soulful Big Black Train is having a super-intense atmosphere. As you see in the lyrics, these might not be too versatile, but instruments and vocals do the songs here and feel impressive.
5. Wakin’ Up
But I’m waking up from a bad dream – this track does everything to create the corresponding feelings. Intense bass play, very selective electric elements but especially a very scary and dirty way to sing – Wakin’ Up reminds of of 1960’s and 1970’s psychedelic songs. To me, it is a bit too much, but you can’t argue it’s got a certain touch.
6. Pray The Devil Back To Hell
The title of this song does not give too much hope that the sixth track will be less scary than the fifth one. Again, Lucinda Williams perfectly uses her raspy voice to create atmosphere – the instrument do what is needed to support it. Her songs are long, but typically have a certain dramatic plot, which don’t make them feel too boring – I have to admit that I for this track, it does not work for me at all.
7. Shadows & Doubts
Shaows & Doubts is a very characteristic track for the album, as it combines quite a lot of elements. Sometimes it feels like a country (maybe even a Gothic Country ballad), but there is a lot of soul and rock in it as well. The atmosphere remids more of more experimental music times, when the people were filled up with weed on the Woodstock Hills. Again, it is a track which feels a bit too intense for me.
8. When The Way Gets Dark
I am really glad that this song is more melodic again, even though the steel guitars are played with massive vibrato and thus give a quite disturbing sound to me. The vocals are in the clear focus of this comparably short song (3:26 minutes) – even they are comparably clear. Not too bad, but a bit too overdone to me.
9. Bone Of Contention
What is that? Again, Good Souls Better Angels provides me with a song, which is a cocktail of different genres. Her singing feels like the performance of a hard rock band sometimes, the guitars are played hard as well. But overall, the song is more a blues-country-hard rock thing, which feels completely weird and crazy towards the end. Maybe some Woodstock leftovers?
10. Down Past The Bottom
Down Past The Bottom is a song, which makes me happy again. I enjoy this rocking interpretation of this genre mix, which you would likely call Americana rock in order to make the long list of influences short. Compact, powerful, relatable – or simply: good!
11. Big Rotator
God is a big rotator Spinnin’ the world like a top And John is a revelator Way up on mountain top Justice is a motivator Bring the world to a stop Evil is the instigator Bleeding the world, drop by drop
If you wouldn’t know about the production and promotion cycles of music albums, you could feel some tracks are some sort of Lucinda Williams’ soundtrack to the Covid-19 crisis. This one would be a perfect fit to the threads and feelings the world is currently undergoing. Passionate and catching.
12. Good Souls
Here we go, the final track – and Lucinda Williams celebrates the grand finale: if you listen to it completely, you need to open your ears for the next 7:35 minutes. However, this time is well invested, it is a track, which is – likely some songs at the beginning – giving me an easy time to listen to it and to enjoy it. Nice song, which is with its Keep me with the good souls // with the better angels also somehow the title track of the album.
Good Souls Better Angels – Spotify
Here is the Spotify widget to the album:
Good Souls Better Angels – My View
Lucinda definitely knows to do her kind of music. Her voice is an amazing asset. Good Souls Better Angels touch a lot of elements and uses her strengths in an impressive way. As said above, it is sometimes very tough and intense music, sometimes it is for me too hard for me to stand, but I guess that’s what some critics call a masterpiece. There is no chance to argue against that the album has a great musical quality, some tracks are just too deep to me. But if you like her style of music, you will be absolutely flashed, I am sure.
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