Lucinda Williams :: The AD Interview

After more than three decades, there's not a lot that hasn't been said about Lucinda Williams' music. A towering figure in the genre of alt-country and roots-rock, her albums, dating all the way back to 1979's Ramblin', full of her literate and emotive songwriting have been a consistent presence, even if she hasn't always released albums in a consistent manner. 1998's Car Wheels on a Gravel Road marked the beginning of a much more regular release of albums and on March 1st of this year Williams will release her tenth studio LP, Blessed. Lucinda Williams sat down with Aquarium Drunkard via phone to talk about the new album, working with Don Was and Elvis Costello, how themes are a tough thing to nail down sometimes and why she probably shouldn't read blog comments about her own records.

Aquarium Drunkard: The new record, Blessed, will be out here on March 1st, your first record since 2008. That's a bit longer than between your previous records this decade, but I also heard you went on a bit of a writing spree for this album.

Lucinda Williams: Yeah and it was going to come out earlier, but we ended up remixing it with Bob Clearmountain. Then it was remastered and the artwork took a little bit longer.

AD: Why'd you end up remastering and remixing it?

Lucinda Williams: We got Don Was on board and one of the reasons was that we wanted to know what he thought. We wanted another set of ears and his influence. The opportunity presented itself and one of the things he suggested, after we had it all mixed, he said "you know, is it okay if we send a couple of tracks to my buddy, Bob Clearmountain, to remix," and we said, yeah, sure, that's why you're on board. So we sent them, got them back and knew then that we needed to have him remix the album and it pushed everything up a couple of notches. I'm very pleased with the sound.

AD: It's a rich sounding record. There were a number of records in the earlier part of the 2000s that were more loose sounding, working with a set studio band. Maybe Don Was has been more sympathetic to the sound you were looking for?

Lucinda Williams: Yeah, that's why we wanted to get him in there. We didn't want to make the same record twice. The last album it was Tom [Overby] and Eric [Liljestrand], our engineer, and me. We met Don at this Neil Young tribute thing about a year ago. Don was in the house band and I was performing and we were hanging out back stage and initially hit it off. When we got ready to go do the album, Tom talked to me about "what do you think about bringing Don Was on board?" And Don was real excited about doing it. We were familiar with the stuff he'd done. I loved the Kris Kristofferson albums that he did, the production on those. He has such a varied background musically, the stuff he's done with the Stones and all that. One of the things Don said as we were going in was "no matter what goes on, musically, as we're recording, I want everything to revolve around Lucinda's vocals." And that was the right thing to say. I knew I was in good hands. That's one of the most important things for me, to have the lyrics right out there.

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