Good Souls Better Angels
Highway 20 / Cooking Vinyl Australia
After a year spent looking back with her Car Wheels On A Gravel Road 20th anniversary tour, Lucinda Williams has now turned her mind to the modern world in the here and now, from internal battles of individuals to the heartless idiocy of those leading the world.
Good Souls Better Angels is a record that harnesses poetic rage, both subtle and visceral. From the opening salve of ‘You Can’t Rule Me’ to the devastatingly beautiful closer ‘Good Souls’ where Williams sings “Keep me with all of those who help me find strength when I’m feeling hopeless, who guide me along and help me stay strong and fearless,” this is an album of anger and frustration but also optimism and resolute conviction. The devil is omnipresent through these dozen songs of gothic blues, a symbol of the battles of depression, egomania and misinformation that Williams chronicles, dragging and weaving her unique, vowel-wrangling vocal across the songs with direct, unfiltered prose.
Musically this is the bluesiest Williams has got in an electric setting. Guitarist Stuart Mathis is a real highlight with his playing ranging from wild squalls of noise to shimmering meditative chords – from Crazy Horse (‘Pray The Devil’) to Lanois (‘Shadows And Doubts’). Correspondingly, the rhythm section know that less is more, riding the deep grooves with heavy intent.
If Williams’ last couple of albums felt like she was settling into a familiar rhythm, this is her shaking things up in uncertain times. Reflecting, dissecting and reassuring the world around her with mesmerising results.