Williams latest record a high point in an impressive catalog

Sam Osborne

Singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams has been lamenting troubled souls and lost causes for the majority of her prolific career.  On her 12th album, “Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone,” she’s still weary as ever, but she’s got compassion. 

“You do not know what wars are going on/Down there where the spirit meets the bone,” she delivers through her trademark, slurred Southern drawl on the album’s first track “Compassion,” adapted from a poem by her father, poet Miller Williams. 

“Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone” is Williams’ first album since 2011.  The double album of 20 songs recalls her greatest work. 


Williams’ music lives in the the Deep South, and she’s taken listeners from juke joints to desolate gravel roads, and across most of the state of Louisiana, throughout her entire career. 

On this record she’s recalling the sultry soul of Dusty Springfield in “West Memphis,” as she warns “So don’t come around here and try to mess with us/‘Cause that’s the way we do things/In West Memphis.”

 In “East Side of Town,” she’s calling out the hypocrisy of an unnamed politician and conveying the ugly truths of the marginalized, with “You wanna see what it means to be down/Then why don’t you come over to the east side of town?”

It is hard to categorize Lucinda Williams. In fact, her 1988 self-titled record was instrumental in creating the alternative country genre. She blends country, soul and rock ’n’ roll, but the underlying emotion has always been the blues. Like “Ode to Billie Joe” songstress Bobbie Gentry, a singer-songwriter who never quite fit the mold of country music, Williams’ vignettes portray the minutiae of southern life with the deftness and detail of a Flannery O’Connor short story.