Lucinda Williams will release her new album “Stories from a Rock n Roll Heart” on June 30th (Highway 20 Records/Thirty Tigers). 2023 will be a special year for Williams: she turned 70 in January and on April 25th will release her memoir “Don’t Tell Anybody The Secrets I Told You.”
The last couple years have been challenging for Williams. In 2020, a tornado damaged her new home in Nashville, followed two weeks later by the beginning of the COVID lockdown. Later that November, Williams suffered a stroke that partially impaired some of her motor skills on the left side of her body, forcing her to learn to walk again and taking away her ability to play the guitar. Williams is in great form as heard on her new single “New York Comeback,” written by Williams, Tom Overby and Jesse Malin, with Patti Scialfa and Bruce Springsteen on backing vocals. (listen above)
Stories from a Rock n Roll Heart was produced by Williams, Overby and Ray Kennedy, who also engineered. The album includes guest backing vocals by Jeremy Ivey, Jesse Malin, Buddy Miller, Angel Olsen, Margo Price and Tommy Stinson (see track listing below).
Since the beginning of her four-decade career, Williams has always written her songs using the guitar. With that capability halted, she had to alter her songwriting process and lean on those close to her for help fulfilling her vision. She began writing collaborations with her husband/manager Overby, which was first documented on her twice Grammy nominated 2020 album Good Souls Better Angels. On Stories from a Rock N Roll Heart, Williams teamed up with singer/songwriter and dear friend Jessie Malin, who co-wrote three tracks on the album and helped her flush out some of the melodies on guitar. Williams also looked to her longtime road manager, Travis Stephens, a veteran guitarist and songwriter, to bring her ideas to life as he co-wrote six songs on the album.
The result is a melodic 10-song rock offering that is an inspiring testament to Williams’ fortitude and perseverance to continue to create under any circumstances. Stories from a Rock n Roll Heart kicks off with the gritty “Let’s Get The Band Back Together,” launching a musical journey that includes edgy rockers such as “Rock N Roll Heart” and “This Is Not My Town.” Williams pays tribute to rock legends Tom Petty (“Stolen Moments”) and Replacements’ co-founder Bob Stinson (“Hum’s Liquor”), to whom who she dedicates the album.
It would not be a Lucinda Williams album without pulling on the heartstrings. The moving “Last Call for the Truth,” the nostalgic and beautiful “Jukebox,” and the poignant album closer “Never Gonna Fade Away” are Williams at her classic best. A true highlight of Stories from a Rock n Roll Heart is the epic “Where the Song Will Find Me,” a hauntingly beautiful piece, orchestrated and arranged by Lawrence Rothman. Throughout the song, Williams expresses that despite everything she has been through, she will never stop seeking, and we are all the better for it.