It turns out Lucinda Williams was just getting started when the veteran singer-songwriter rolled out “Man Without a Soul,” the first missive from her upcoming album Good Souls Better Angels.
That roiling, simmering track, the first new song she’d unveiled in four years, clearly took aim at the current White House occupant (“without dignity and grace,” among other failings), and with no apologies.
Williams has now unleashed a second track from the album, and it’s even more ornery than its predecessor. “You Can’t Rule Me” is a straight-up blues-bar stomp; Williams’ voice has rarely sounded so beautifully ravaged, and her guitarist, Stuart Mathis, lets rip with slide-guitar solos that match the spittle in her voice.
Keeping with its feisty arrangement, the song is a don’t-tread-on-me declaration that’s even more resolute than usual for Williams. “Man, I’ve got a right to talk about what I see/Way too much is going wrong,” she starts. Even without naming names or specific gripes, she never lets up: “You might slip me and might trip me, I’m gonna tell you one last time/You can’t rule me.” And just like the best bar-room jam, the song seems to end — and then keeps going before it crashes to an end.
Both songs will be included on Good Souls Better Angels, scheduled for April 24th release. Williams’ first album of new material since 2016’s ambitious double disc The Ghost of Highway 20, the 12-track album makes its dark-times intentions known in some of its other song titles: “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” “Bad News Blues,” “When the Way Gets Dark,” and “Down Past the Bottom.” Williams will be touring the U.S. later this year; dates will be announced shortly.