Lucinda Williams is a forceful spirit on Good Souls Better Angels | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Lucinda Williams is a forceful spirit on Good Souls Better Angels 

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click to enlarge Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams

Andy Witchger

Lucinda Williams writes raw, visceral songs filled with beaten-down people liberating themselves from bullies. “I changed the name of this town / So you can’t follow me down,” she sings on “Changed the Locks,” from her 1988 self-titled album. Her new record, Good Souls Better Angels, takes on similar demons, though its antagonists don’t just pick on individuals but seek out victims on a global scale. Williams snarls truth to power on “Man Without a Soul,” a protest song that recalls Phil Ochs: “All the money in the world will never fill that hole,” she sings to an unidentified man (she recently told NPR that she thinks of her target as Donald Trump, but he could just as easily be Mitch McConnell or anyone else who uses their power to abuse others). On Good Souls Better Angels, Williams sounds like a cowpunk roadhouse version of a singer-songwriter—more than four decades into her career, she’s more powerful than ever. Williams pushes her country-rock alto into the microphone on “Big Black Train” as she repeats “I don’t want to get on board,” as if to shut up anyone who wasn’t convinced. And her longtime backing band, Buick 6, enhances her brilliant songwriting and forceful performances: on “Wakin’ Up,” which tells a startling story of escaping an abusive relationship with an addict, Stuart Mathis's jagged guitar riffs match the emotion in Williams’s voice.   v

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