Swallow Hill Music :: Lucinda Williams with Amy Cook
Lucinda Williams has always been adept at painting landscapes of the soul, illuminating the spirit’s shadowy nooks and shimmering crannies -- but she’s never captured the sun breaking through the clouds as purely as on her new Lost Highway release, Little Honey.
“I’m in a different phase of my life, so there are more happy moments on this album,” the singer-songwriter says of her ninth studio set. ‘Darkly introspective,’ is one phrase people have used to describe a lot of my songs. There are moody songs, but I’m looking outside myself a little bit more. These aren’t ‘boy meets girl, boy leaves girl, girl gets bummed out’ songs -- there’s a lot more than that going on.
“The one thing the songs have in common is directness,” she says. “The beauty of country and blues is their simplicity, it’s about getting things across in a really direct way. I’ve spent a while stretching out and going in different directions, which is my nature. But I feel that I can always embrace that original simplicity again -- that’s why I went back to record ‘Circles and Xs,’ which I actually wrote back in 1985.”
Over the course of a recording career that's now in its fourth decade, the Louisiana-born singer has navigated terrain as varied as the dust-bowl starkness of her 1978 debut Ramblin’ (recorded on the fly with a mere 250 dollar budget behind her) and the stately elegance of last year's West (which Vanity Fair called “the record of a lifetime”). Between those signposts, Lucinda Williams established a reputation as one of rock's most uncompromising and consistently fascinating writers and performers, earning kudos from artists as diverse as Mary-Chapin Carpenter (who helped win Williams a Grammy with her recording of “Passionate Kisses”) and Elvis Costello (who joins her for a duet on the Little Honey mini-drama “Jailhouse Tears”).
She’s never settled for any sort of pigeonholing, entering the ‘90s with the slow-burning Sweet Old World -- a disc that, as much as any release, helped place the Americana movement at the forefront of listeners’ minds -- and cementing her own spot in the cultural lexicon with 1998’s rough-hewn masterpiece Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.
Amy Cook bio:
It's not easy to fuse a connection between the heartstrings and the hipbone, to bridge the emotional intensity of a singer-songwriter and the effortless swagger of a born rocker. But that's exactly what California-bred, Austin-based Amy Cook has been doing for more than a decade -winning over fans with tunes that not only connect, but also attach themselves to the very heart of pleasure.
On Summer Skin, her latest album, Cook explores both sides of that personality, with the assistance of a remarkable group of musicians: Bassist Me’Shell N’Degeocello, guitarists David Garza and Chris Bruce, and Jonathan Wilson on drums, as well as guests Ben Kweller, Patty Griffin and Robert Plant (who adds instantly recognizable harmonies to the gently atmospheric “It’s Gonna Rain”).
Summer Skin marks a quantum leap for Cook, who’s built a dedicated following through years of steady gigging -- from coffeehouses to rock clubs, from festival stages to theatres, she finds herself equally at home. “I think we really captured something special on this album,” she says. “And the key is that I think it’s really universal. You can write for yourself, write things that are very obscure and that’s fine, but it’s really important to me to connect with people, to create a connection – and I think we’ve really done that here.