Lucinda Williams has announced the September 30 release of her first-ever double studio album, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone. The album will be released on her new independent label Highway 20 Records and will feature several guest artists, including guitarists Bill Frisell and Tony Joe White (whose songs "Polk Salad Annie" and "Rainy Night in Georgia" were hits for Elvis Presley and Brook Benton, respectively).
Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone is being billed as one of Williams’ most ambitious and adventurous projects to date. It features 20 new songs, 18 of which were written entirely by Williams, a three-time Grammy Award winner. The album’s opening track, “Compassion," was originally a poem by her father, the poet Miller Williams, for which she wrote music and additional lyrics. This is a personal milestone for Williams, as it marks the first time she has composed music for one of her father’s poems, and it is from that song that the album title was taken. The only cover song on the record is the J.J. Cale penned “Magnolia”, which closes the album.
Williams challenges herself vocally throughout the album, exploring new dynamics with her instrument and even incorporating improvisational elements to some of her songs. As expected from Williams, there are poignant intimate moments that cut to the core.
However, the breadth of the music on Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone is unlike any album Williams has recorded. There are extended performances by Frisell and White, Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan, Elvis Costello’s rhythm section of drummer Pete Thomas and bassist Davey Faragaher, and Wallflowers guitarist Stuart Mathis. Jakob Dylan adds harmony vocals on “It’s Gonna Rain," and Williams’ longtime rhythm section of drummer Butch Norton and bassist David Sutton make contributions as well.