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Lucinda Williams on Next Albums: 'The Older I Get, the More I Thrive'

Singer-songwriter's 'country-soul' sessions include Springsteen, Velvet Underground covers

Lucinda Williams
Courtesy of All Eyes Media
January 16, 2014 11:15 AM ET

Lucinda Williams is currently putting the finishing touches on her untitled 11th studio album, a collection of songs tentatively set for a June release culling from three recording sessions that yielded 34 tracks. She describes the new batch as honing in on a Muscle Shoals-inspired sound that recalls classic artists like Tony Joe White, Bobbie Gentry and Dusty Springfield's Dusty in Memphis. Williams recruited a bevy of musicians to help her out, including jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, Wallflowers guitarist Stuart Mathis, Soul Coughing bassist Sebastian Steinberg and multi-instrumentalist Greg Leisz, as well as Joe White and her touring band.

Check out Rolling Stone's 10 Best Country Albums of 2013

"This productivity thing started a few years ago, right around [when] my mother passed away," Williams tells Rolling Stone. "The older I get, the more I thrive."

Songs Williams cut include "Foolishness," "Stow Away," a Ray Bradbury-inspired song called "Something Wicked This Way Comes" and "Walk On," which she says sounds like Brill Building-era Carole King. The sessions also yielded three interesting covers: J.J. Cale's "Magnolia," the Velvet Undergound's "Pale Blue Eyes" and Bruce Springsteen's "Factory." 

With so much material to choose from, it's likely there will be a handful of leftovers, and Williams has a plan for those, too. "We’re going to put the other stuff out as a solo [album]," she says. "Believe it or not, we were talking, I said, 'Put it all out at the same time.' It's hard to know what to do when you have that much stuff."

First up, though, Williams has just reissued her 1988 self-titled album, which includes a live set from 1989. "Prior to getting signed, it was pretty rough," she says. "Nobody would sign me. Not the big ones, not the small ones." Rough Trade Records ended up releasing the acclaimed album.

These days, she says she still has the spark that Rough Trade saw 25 years ago when they took a chance on her. "I’m the same girl," she says. "I still got that sense of wonder. I’d say my voice is the best it's ever been. I have more stories to tell. I’m more confident as a writer in the studio and everything. [But] deep down inside, I’m the same girl I always was."

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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