Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone
Highway 20 Records
Lucinda Williams operates on the fringes, her music ragged and torn, frayed around the edges. Her voice bleeds onto tape. For years she’s been lauded by those in the know and she’s had dalliances with the mainstream but for the most part she stalks the dark ends of town, shrouded in shadows, obscured by cheap whisky fumes, cigarette smoke and the like.
Her eleventh studio cut is a study in Americana sleaze. It sometimes slithers, skids through the mud, ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’; it has the cold, dead eyes of a killer but is warm-as-hell country soul, barbed-wire blues. Sultry, ‘West Memphis’, fuzzed out (Tony Joe White on guitar); Bill Frisell pops up, Ian McLagen, Jakob Dylan.
No emotion is left unexplored, you’d not expect anything less. An ambitious double record, “southern gothic” feeling to the fore, her vocal sometimes cuts through like a rusty buzzsaw, sometimes flits around the edges. She intersperses with relative calm (‘It’s Gonna Rain’, ‘Compassion’, ‘This Old Heartache’), fills the gaps with blood-stained limpidness. This is a defining album, what country music should be.