Friday, May 22, 2020

Record of the Month

I figured I'd do a monthly 'what I'm listening to' kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it's my blog! So there!

I say, I never learn from my mistakes, and in a way, that is true with the new Lucinda Williams disk, Good Souls for Better Angels

With her last few disks, I've rated them so poorly, but always continued to purchase. I swore to myself, that the Lucinda I loved so much no longer existed, and I would no longer buy her disks. That lasted for one new release and one re-reissue. 

Without listening to a note, but perusing iTunes on a pre-dawn Friday morning (the day of new releases), I saw it, I hit 'purchase' and the rest they say, is history. 

And this is why I can't learn: my mostly pragmatic approach to most things goes out the window when it comes to artists I like or have liked. My entire music collection is littered with quasi-bad releases of people who used to put out good or great stuff.  But now and then, they surprise you. Case in point: Lucinda Williams. 

It's like Vegas or golf. You hate it, you lose time and again, and just as you give up, you win a hand (or a hole), and you're automatically drawn back in. 

Good Souls for Better Angels is that winning hand. 

Williams' voice is never going to be sing-songy and it's rough for sure, but not nearly as bad as those albums when she sang like she had a mouthful of broken marbles. 

Good Souls is all about the soul, the devil, g-d or John the Revelator. All are mentioned numerous times throughout the disk. Maybe for a woman from the South, this isn't all that surprising. 

I played this disk on shuffle, which may or may not have helped. The first song was "Pray the Devil Back to Hell".  Just awesome. The song and album aren't rock, nor blues, nor country - but an amalgam that is almost her own. She stands out with "Down Past the Bottom". 

Her Blues-Country vein is tapped with excellent "Bad Blues News" and "Man Without a Soul" 

The slower songs that Williams could make work on many of her albums don't always fit here ("Shadows & Doubt"). "Big Black Train" and "When the Way Gets Dark" will prove that last sentence a fallacy. It does evoke a little something from Essence. I like "Good Souls" too, and it's a good way to close out the disk. 

I'm not a fan of "Bone of Contention" or "Wakin' Up". It's Williams, not Crazy Horse. 

As the disk was recorded live in the studio with her touring band, there is an immediacy about it. It's a hard album - in terms of music and to like, should you not be a fan. 

Good Souls isn't a perfect disk, but it is leaps and bounds better than Lucinda's last 3-4 disks. So, for the moment, I've been reeled back in. 

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