Album review: Lucinda Williams’ ‘Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone’

Annie Zaleski

Three stars

Lucinda Williams Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone

Lucinda Williams is certainly in a contemplative mood on her new double album, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone. Throughout these lyrically deft 20 songs, she beseeches others to have tolerance and compassion; expresses gratitude for unconditional support; and brushes off negativity and the bad seeds weighing down her life. Musically, things are more touch and go, due to sprawling arrangements that sometimes lose focus. But there’s no denying the power of her rumpled gospel, craggy folk, weary Southern soul and electrified Americana. “Foolishness” is a Patti Smith/Neil Young hybrid; vintage country lullaby “It’s Gonna Rain” has solemn Jakob Dylan harmonies and resonant Bill Frisell guitars; and standout “Burning Bridges” is a sweltering, bar-band blues rocker. Meanwhile, the stark “Compassion”—whose lyrics draw from a poem by her father—is a harrowing number with cracked acoustic guitar and Williams’ fractured, fragile voice. Vulnerable moments like those are transcendent.

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