One Track Mind: Lucinda Williams, “East Side of Town” from Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone (2014)

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Lucinda Williams sings with the dust of ages on her boots, her sleeves frayed from years of struggle — struggle with heartbreak, with trying to get by, with determinedly telling it like it is. And “East Side of Town,” the lead track from her forthcoming album Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, is better for having that voice to convey its devastating truths.

See, “East Side of Town” is no lament for the economic downturn. It’s a quick tearing down of the thin curtain that separates the haves from the never-will-haves. Williams has always sung with a kind of bedraggled resentment, and the hairline cracks that have spidered through her vocal instrument over the years serve to deepen that sensibility here.

She’s paired on “East Side of Town” with Ian McLagan, of Faces fame, and Stuart Mathis of the Wallflowers on keyboards and guitar, respectively. The rest of Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone — due September 30, 2014 via Williams’ own Highway 20 imprint — features a similarly impressive cast, with Bill Frisell, Tony Joe White and the rhythm section from Elvis Costello’s band making important contributions.

And yet, they don’t come close to stealing Williams’ spotlight. Every resonate detail, every sharp edged barb, is given the kind of weight that only she can provide.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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