Album Review: Good Souls Better Angels by Lucinda Williams
Great, Based on 4 Critics
The Line of Best Fit - 85 Based on rating 8.5/10
That's the quandary in which Good Souls, Better Angels, finds itself. Lucinda Williams 's thirteenth album was recorded in just fifteen days - a far cry from the three separate attempts it took to get her masterpiece Car Wheels On A Gravel Road on tape - finishing up last November. But the ensuing five months have seen the album emerging in an entirely transformed world from the one which birthed it.
Good Souls Better Angels rises from the darkest corners of Lucinda Williams' world: down desert roads, in a barren country, through the windows of homes and churches that don't offer the sanctuary they promise. These 12 songs are tough and haunted, built on simple blues progressions that twist and pull until they fray. Williams recorded the album in Nashville with her touring band, Buick 6, in concentrated bursts, live in the studio.
The devil has met his match, and it's the 67-year-old Queen of Southern Gothica. On "Pray the Devil Back to Hell," Americana icon Lucinda Williams doesn't so much sing as snarl about pulverizing Lucifer with piety. All the while, she is backed up by bluesy guitar and a creaky violin fit for a Tom Waits deep cut.
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).