Lucinda Williams, Kenneth Brian Band | The Vic | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Lucinda Williams, Kenneth Brian Band 18+ Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Fri., Nov. 28, 8 p.m. 2014

Lucinda Williams opens her latest album, the powerful Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, singing lyrics inspired by a poem written by her father, Miller Williams, in a scuffed voice that’s weary and imploring. “Compassion” preaches a generosity of spirit that’s often been absent in her hardscrabble music—throughout the record she speaks from a place of contentment and empathy, her perspective framed by a sense of mortality. In “When I Look at the World” she measures the disappointments and unfairnesses visited upon her against “the world and all its glory” and decides that everything is OK; the title of “Temporary Nature (of Anything Precious)” sums up its sentiment. On some songs Williams fires up her old righteous indignation about insensitivity, self-destruction, fucked-up lovers, and criminal injustices, but the relatively hopeful material makes them feel less like scorched-earth recriminations and more like attempts to shake off complacency and selfishness. The music vividly demonstrates her deep investment in Americana—blues, honky-tonk, soul, gospel, rock—and she recorded it with a large cast of sympathetic, distinctive players, augmenting her working group with guitarist Bill Frisell, members of Elvis Costello’s band the Imposters, pedal steel player Greg Leisz, and keyboardist Ian McLagan, among others. The new album (the first release on Williams’s Highway 20 imprint) spreads its 20 songs out across more than 100 minutes, so it’s a lot to absorb in a single sitting, but it not only suggests that Williams has beaten her self-defeating perfectionism (which once drove her to scrap entire sessions rather than release them) but also that she’s never had more to say. —Peter Margasak

Price: $40

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