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Lucinda Williams - Stories From a Rock N Roll Heart

Despite Williams’ hard road, this latest addition to her esteemed discography is free from rancor, serving at once as a love letter to a life in music and a testament to her force of will.

Lucinda Williams - Stories From A Rock N Roll Heart Album Cover
June 26, 2023 11:46 am GMT
Last Edited June 28, 2023 7:20 am GMT

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Lucinda Williams - Stories From A Rock N Roll Heart

Label: Highway 20 Records / Thirty Tigers

Release Date: June 30, 2023

Producers: Lucinda Williams, Tom Overby and Ray Kennedy

Tracklisting:

1. Let's Get The Band Back Together

2. New York Comeback

3. Last Call For The Truth

4. Jukebox

5. Stolen Moments

6. Rock N Roll Heart

7. This Is Not My Town

8. Hum's Liquor

9. Where The Song Will Find Me

10. Never Gonna Fade Away

With three GRAMMYs, more than a dozen critically acclaimed albums and countless artists who cite her as an influence, Lucinda Williams is duly regarded as a legend and pioneer of the Americana genre.

Making music is what Williams does and who she is; her 15th album, Stories From a Rock N Roll Heart, makes this abundantly clear in both content and form. Forged in the wake of the debilitating stroke she endured at the end of 2020, the 10 songs that comprise this piece are a potent distillation of both her personal ethos and iconic blend of Southern blues, country and roots rock.

After her stroke, Williams spent weeks in the hospital and months in a wheelchair. Unable to play her guitar, she had to change up her writing process, co-writing the songs on ...Rock N Roll Heart with her husband and co-producer Tom Overby, friend Jesse Malin (who is currently contending with his own stroke-related recovery), and trusted road manager Travis Stephens.

Earlier this year, Williams published a candid and winning memoir Don’t Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You, which detailed her traumatic formative years and long road to success.

A similarly ruminative and nostalgic tone permeates Stories From a Rock N Roll Heart; “Give me one more song to sing along / one more dance to float me through”, Williams sings on ‘Last Call for the Truth', a bittersweet look back at her rowdier days chasing her dreams in late-night dives.

Her seasoned voice is more expressive than ever, capturing both her tenacity and sense of loss, while her muscular band holds back and leans in with harmony.

It’s more than apt to hear another rock and roll lifer, Bruce Springsteen, back her up on ‘Rock N Roll heart', which could end up being the rock version of ‘Young at Heart’.

Likewise, Buddy Miller, who played on Williams’ landmark Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, lends backing vocals — along with Jeremy Ivey and Margo Price — on the romp that opens the album, ‘Let’s Get the Band Back Together’.

‘Jukebox’ is another ode to finding refuge from dark thoughts and isolation in corner bars and music. “I got a handful of quarters / I know how to ease my lonely heart / with Patsy Cline and Muddy Waters”, she sings as the pedal steel swells, Angel Olson joining on the refrain.

‘Stolen Moments’ is an elegy to her friend and peer Tom Petty, who passed away in 2017 (Petty covered one of Williams’ breakthrough songs ‘Change the Locks’ in 1996, and Williams was the opening act for the last show he would perform). “In stolen moments, you're right with me, you're riding with me again,” Williams drawls, love and loss palpable in her voice as electric guitars swell and squall.

It’s a highlight of the album, as is the six-and-a-half-minute ‘Where the Song Will Find Me’. Orchestrated and arranged by Lawrence Rothman, the song is a gorgeous ode to the path that has sustained Williams through it all. “I want to be where the song can find me / and walk across the bridge / and stare up at the stars / so close to the edge,” she sings with both longing and self-knowing.

Given all she’s been through, it's fitting that the album closes with a song called ‘Never Gonna Fade Away,’ which finds Williams recounting her practical and existential challenges and her determination to overcome them.

Despite Williams’ hard road, this latest addition to her esteemed discography is free from rancor, serving at once as a love letter to a life in music and a testament to her force of will.

8/10

Lucinda Williams' 2023 album, Stories From a Rock N Roll Heart, is released June 30 via Highway 20 Records / Thirty Tigers.

For more on Lucinda Williams, see below:

Written by Deborah Crooks
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