SOLD OUT SHOW
DOORS OPEN AT 6PM • ABBY BRYANT & THE ECHOS 6:30PM • LUCINDA WILLIAMS 8:00PM
RAIN OR SHINE EVENT
NO OUTSIDE FOOD/BEVERAGE • CHAIRS/BLANKETS ALLOWED • NO ANIMALS ON PROPERTY
“It’s all come full circle,” says Lucinda Williams about her powerful new album, Good Souls Better Angels. After more than forty years of music making, the pioneering, Louisiana-born artist has returned to the gritty blues foundation that first inspired her as a young singer-songwriter in the late 1970s. And after spending the last year on her sold-out “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” 20th Anniversary tour, Williams has reunited with that game-changing 1998 album’s
co-producer and engineer Ray Kennedy, recording Good Souls, Better Angels with her ace touring band at his Nashville studio. Joining them as co-producer is Williams’ manager Tom Overby, to whom she’s been married for a decade and who contributed lyrics to her masterful songcraft. “That’s what I always dreamed of – a relationship with someone I could create with,” Williams enthuses.
The result – Good Souls Better Angels – is the most topical album of Williams’ career. The dangerous world we live in, the constant barrage of a frightening news cycle, depression, domestic abuse, a man without a soul – and, yeah, the devil – figure prominently among its twelve tracks. “The devil comes into play quite a bit on this album,” Williams says. “I’ve always loved the imagery in Robert Johnson songs and those really dark Delta blues that are sort of biblical. I was inspired by Leonard Cohen – he dealt with that in his songs – and Bob Dylan and Nick Cave.” While, Good Souls Better Angels reflects many dark realities that surround us, the album is tied together with themes of perseverance, resilience and ultimately, hope.
As for the topicality of the material, Williams says, “Because of all this crap that’s going on, it’s on the top of everybody’s minds – it’s all anybody talks about: Basically, the world’s falling apart – it’s like the apocalypse. That’s where that Old Testament stuff comes from. It’s different from my other albums in that there aren’t the story songs about my childhood and all. It feels exciting.”
From the driving blues of the opening track “You Can’t Rule Me” to the ominous gothic “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” from punk-blues-fueled “Bone of Contention” to fire ‘n brimstone “Drop by Drop (Big Rotator),” Williams has never been more raw and direct, with gut-punching wordplay crossing the Good Book with hip-hop with Ginsbergian beat poetry. The Williams-Overby collaborative songwriting experiment clearly has been a success. “It just happened organically,” says Williams. “Tom and I started working on songs together and he came up with some of the ideas. He gave me lines that he’d written and I took it from there. I love it because it expands things. ‘Man Without a Soul’ was his idea, and he came up with ‘Big Black Train,’ about that big black cloud of depression. When I listen to that track, it makes me cry.”
Recording live in Ray Kennedy’s vintage-equipped studio, Williams and her longtime band – guitarist Stuart Mathis, bassist David Sutton, and drummer Butch Norton – cut most of the songs in two or three takes, with the rhythm section’s rock-solid pulse and Mathis’ versatile sonic attacks backing Williams’ distinctive passion-drenched vocals. The brutal “Wakin’ Up,” punctuated by Mathis’ chainsaw guitar, viscerally details a woman’s harrowing escape from domestic violence, while the pensive “Shadows & Doubts” sheds light our quick to-judge, social-media-led society and how everyone may love you one moment, but completely abandon you the next. Williams turns Greg Garing’s honky-tonk shuffle “Down Past the Bottom” into a dark-night-of-the-soul hard rocker. Tongue in-cheek irony leads the swingin’ “Bad News Blues” as Williams bemoans a plethora of “liars and lunatics/fools and thieves/clowns and hypocrites” and Mathis’ guitar work slithers around the lyrics like a snake. The bittersweet counterpoint “When the Way Gets Dark,” with its lovely melody and evocative guitar, offers hope to us all, Williams urging in her most tender vocals, “Don’t give up/Take my hand/You’re not alone.”
Williams has traveled a long road since her 1979 debut, Ramblin’ on My Mind, followed by Happy Woman Blues, her first album of originals released forty years ago in 1980. (She says that she’s still “the same girl” except that now “I have a bigger fan base and I can afford to stay at better hotels.”) Over the course of fourteen remarkable albums, three Grammy awards, and countless accolades, including Time’s Songwriter of the Year of 2001, Williams is one of our most revered artists, beloved for her singular vocals and extraordinary songs. Her recent double albums, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone (2014) and Ghosts of Highway 20 (2016), released on her own label, received some of the best reviews of her career.
Giving voice to all her experience, Williams ends Good Souls, Better Angels with the luminous “Good Souls,” one of the last songs written for the album. It is a deeply moving invocation: “Keep me with all of those/who help me find
strength/when I’m feeling hopeless/who guide me along/And help me stay strong and fearless.”
SUPPORT: ABBY BRYANT & THE ECHOES
A music minister’s daughter turned fierce front woman, Abby Bryant has cemented her presence as a standout in Americana and soul with her band’s debut album Not Your Little Girl. The 13-track LP features Bryant’s raw vocal talent supported by the confident and dynamic backing group The Echoes and establishes a strong foundation for the band in the world of vintage-inspired Americana and soul rock.
Playing for church services under her father’s direction, Bryant recalls early memories of singing a solo as an angel in a nativity play and backing up the church band in her small-town community near Charlotte, North Carolina. It wasn’t until she attended Appalachian State University that Bryant began to seriously consider a professional career in music. Forming the beginnings of the group with her friend from back home Bailey Faulkner, Bryant merged her love of the sound of soul and American roots music embodied by artists like Etta James and Bonnie Raitt with Faulkner’s similar passion for American blues and Faces-style rock. With these inspirations, Bryant and Faulkner began co-writing songs that would eventually appear on Not Your Little Girl.
After graduating from college and working with a number of part-time band members, the two relocated to Asheville, NC to form a proper band and quickly began heavy touring that kickstarted an organic fanbase throughout the Southeast. “I’ve really had to learn to trust myself and lean into our confidence in the band. There will always be difficult moments, but the thought of giving up or even slowing down has never crossed my mind,” explains Bryant.
Title track “Not Your Little Girl” announces Bryant’s resolve in trusting her judgment and beliefs when faced with adversity. “When I started singing professionally, I was young and vulnerable, and there were a lot of older folks trying to steer my career and life choices. I was done letting myself be in situations where someone would try to control my work or talk down to me,” she recounts. “It took so long for me to say / That I’m not your little girl / I gotta find my very own way / To live in this big old world,” declares Bryant in the song’s powerful chorus.
The album also touches on themes of growing up and leaving home and “having a pretty traditional childhood and needing to build an identity and set of values on my own” describes Bryant. Navigating an often harsh world with a determined and fresh sense of self, Bryant finds comfort in the band’s steady march forward. “And if you feel like you’re dying … / You just gotta follow your own lead” Bryant affirms on the emphatic rocker “Keep Moving.”
Recorded in the band’s home base of Asheville, NC, the album features Anthony Dorion on bass, John Ginty (Robert Randolph & The Family Band, The Allman Betts Band) on Hammond organ and keys, Jeff Sipe (Col. Bruce Hampton, Leftover Salmon, Susan Tedeschi) on drums, and The Naughty Horns (Nick Ellman, John Culbreth, Ian Bowman) in addition to Faulkner on guitars and Bryant on vocals. Not Your Little Girl represents the culmination of years of dedication and a decided shift in Bryant and Faulkner’s outlook on the band’s future – to claim their place among the greats of American roots and soul music.