Lucinda Williams - Lu's Jukebox Vol. 2: Southern Soul: From Memphis To Muscle Shoals & More
2021 CD release.
The second in a series of albums drawn from livestream concerts Lucinda Williams presented to benefit independent music venues hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lu's Jukebox, Vol. 2: Southern Soul -- From Memphis to Muscle Shoals is the sort of album so well-suited to her gifts that one wonders why she didn't do this sooner. As a performer, Williams has never shied away from showing off the influence of vintage blues and R&B, and for this LP, she covers nine classic soul tunes from the 1960s and early '70s, with two ringers added for seasoning: a lean and swampy take on Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billy Joe" and a slow, sensuous reimagining of her own "Still I Long for Your Kiss."
This material was cut live in the studio with Williams' road band, and they approach this music as true fans who happen to have some ideas of their own. Their love and appreciation for the original recordings is clear, but they bend the songs to suit both Williams' voice and the group's musical personality. The result is a set of performances that pay homage while staking out their own sonic territory. The rough-edged but expressive guitar work from Stuart Mathis and Joshua Grange carries these songs the way keyboards or horns often gave the original recordings their foundation, and bassist Steve Mackey and drummer Fred Eltringham provide a richly beating heart for this music, simply but surely moving the band forward. Williams delivers just like a great soul vocalist while also sounding exactly like herself. She's powerful and passionate without overplaying, she's emotionally eloquent in honest, thoughtful ways, and she often sounds like she's still finding new angles in these songs while she sings, filling her vocals with a sense of adventure and exploration that adds to their power.
Recording songs that already exist in definitive performances by the likes of Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, Ann Peebles, or Al Green is either a brave or a foolish move for most musicians, but Lucinda Williams is smart enough and soulful enough to cut these tunes without embarrassing herself, and Southern Soul -- From Memphis to Muscle Shoals demonstrates she can honor the great artists who introduced these tunes while making them her own.
|Brand||Highway 20 Records|
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