One year after the release of her Americana Award-winning double album, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, Lucinda Williams has put the finishing touches on another record. The Ghosts of Highway 20 is due out February 5th, bringing with it another batch of raw, ragged alt-country songs.
This time, Williams turns to I-20 — a 190-mile highway that cuts a line across the northern end of her home state, Louisiana — for inspiration. The Ghosts of Highway 20 is filled with characters who either travel along the highway or live near its off-ramps, using I-20 as a jumping-off point for an album that focuses on lovers, losers, leavers and landscapes. Williams beefs up the album’s 12 original songs with two covers, too, including a version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Factory.” There’s also an updated take on a forgotten Woody Guthrie song, “House of Earth,” featuring lyrics by the folk music icon and music by Williams herself.
Pedal-steel player Greg Leisz plays a central role on The Ghosts of Highway 20, layering the songs with textured twang and sharing production duties with both Williams and Tom Overby. Guitarists Bill Frisell and Val McCallum also make appearances, joined by Williams’ familiar rhythm section of Butch Norton and David Sutton.
Williams is currently on a tour of New Zealand and Australia.