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Download Good Souls Better Angels

by Lucinda Williams
  • Release type: Album
  • Year: 2020
  • Tracks: 12
  • Duration: 59:41
  • Size, Mb: 138.22
  • Bitrate: MP3 336
  • Genre: Folk, Pop/Rock, Country

Review

Lucinda Williams is incapable of sounding anything less than 100-percent engaged and sincere. Whatever she has to say, she clearly means it, and that more than anything else is the thread that runs through 2020's Good Souls Better Angels, her fourth album since she launched her own record label and took full control of her process of recording and releasing music. Cut mostly live in the studio with her road band -- Stuart Mathis on guitar, David Sutton on bass, and Butch Norton on drums -- these 12 songs play like a long stream-of consciousness journey, with Williams writing in blues structures that repeat certain lines like a mantra while her band either sneak up on the music like a ghost or howl with elemental, bluesy skronk (the raw, gritty tone of Mathis' guitar matches Williams' vocals for sheer ferocity on numbers like "Down Past the Bottom," "Bone of Contention," and "Wakin' Up" like he's roots rock's answer to Ron Asheton). As a set of performances, Good Souls Better Angels is a remarkable piece of work that proudly and nakedly puts Williams' heart and soul on display, but unusually for her, the songs don't always sound as strong as one would expect. When Williams is singing about the state of the world on tunes like "Bad News Blues," "Big Rotator," and "Man Without a Soul" (the latter clearly addressing Donald Trump), she has focus and speaks her truth with the force of a poet and a true believer. But as empowered as she is on "You Can't Rule Me," it's a message she's delivered more than a few times in the past, and "Big Black Train" and "Pray the Devil" deal in metaphors that were old a century ago, and for all the soul she invests in them, they're just not up to her usual standard of quality. (Keep in mind one has higher expectations from Williams than the vast majority of singer/songwriters currently plying their trade.) And though Williams' greatest gift as a singer was never a matter of the quality of her instrument, at the age of 67, the grain of her voice and the unpredictability of her phrasing are much more of an issue than they once were. Good Souls Better Angels is full of fierce, engrossing music from a great band with a mesmerizing frontwoman, but as fine as that is, it comes from someone who is capable of better work, and though this is still recommended to fans, it's ultimately a good album from someone who has been consistently great in the past.

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