One Track Mind: Lucinda Williams, “Magnolia” from Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone (2014)

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Lucinda Williams’ almost 10-minute trip through J.J. Cale’s “Magnolia” is a perfectly calibrated tribute, one full of broken Stonesy grandeur and quietly mournful space.

Listening, it’s clear she understands the lesser-explored contours of this song, settling into it like a cracked and comfortable leather seat. Her journey with it, in fact, began in the 1970s, when Williams first inserted “Magnolia” in her setlists. More importantly, there’s a clear sense that Williams and her talented group of musical cohorts simply let this lonesome moment happen, remembering the then-recently deceased singer-songwriter in the best way possible — but breathing new life into the work he left behind.

It also serves as a sweepingly ambitious closing statement for Williams’ forthcoming 20-track double album Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, due September 30, 2014 via Highway 20/Thirty Tigers. The album was co-produced with husband Tom Overby and Greg Leisz, also includes Bill Frisell, Ian McLagan from the Faces, members of Elvis Costello’s band, Tony Joe White and Jakob Dylan, among others.

Williams will be taking this music on the road soon, playing the Way Over Yonder and Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festivals in California on September 26 and October 3, respectively, before launching a new tour that will reportedly include dates in North America, Europe and elsewhere.

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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