Reviewed by Mae Hunt

I imagine Zephaniah OHora has an enchanting ability to sooth a roaring crowd using just his voice. Each track in his new album, Listening to the Music, is calm and steady, filled with a tenderness and humility that is rare in music today. Though controlled, the album manages to keep listeners on their toes with the inclusion of upbeat songs bursting with steel pedal guitars, fiddles, and even some much appreciated piano. 

Originally from New Hampshire, OHora was introduced to music through his congregation’s worship group.  It wasn’t until his mid-20s, after relocating to Brooklyn, NY, when he began pursuing music professionally after performing regularly at a classic country bar, Skinny Dennis. Since then, OHora has proved that you don’t need to be a native Southerner to create classic country music. Listening to the Music was created in tandem with the late Neal Casal, whom OHora hopes is remembered through his outstanding work on the album. 

The twelve tracks are kicked off with Heaven’s On the Way, a song about appreciating daily life and enjoying the moment. Full of country twang, this happy-go-lucky song also features John Graboff on the pedal steel guitar. OHora sings, “We’re not worried about tomorrow, what’s comin’ around the bend. We’ll map it out together and raise hell along the way.” 

Though the album starts off on a happy note, it certainly doesn’t stay that way. Black and Blue, for example, is about a romance-gone-wrong, layered with guitar riffs and colorful keys. Similarly, It’s Not So Easy Today tells the class tale of trying to overcome a bad heartbreak. The electric guitar wails in the background as OHora cries, “I’ve had time to see it my way. It’s not so easy today.” 

All American Singer interrupts a slew of sad songs with its friendly optimism. Inspired by O’Hora’s own self-reflection in the wake of national political and social unrest, this song focuses on tolerance and equality. OHora says: “When it comes to crime and equal pay I think it’s time to find a better way. I’ll stand up for democracy, I’m proud to be an All American singer.” 

Finding peace through O’Hora’s identity as a musician returns in the album’s feature track, Listening to the Music. The combination of OHora’s soft voice and easy-going acoustics allows listeners to get lost in the song. When he sings, “Sends a shiver down my spine, I felt the great divine, listening to the music once again,” I can feel that shiver down my spine! 

The album’s final track, Time Won’t Take Its Time, seems to relay an acceptance with his own life. O’Hora explains how “30 is turning to 40” and that many of his plans have not yet come to fruition. Though a lot of his previous songs are focused on romance, he admits to finding peace in traveling through life “single and free.” He even graces us with a brief but impressive yodel to close out the track!

The album includes a range of emotions, from the palpable excitement in Riding That Train to the painful When I’ve No More Tears to Cry. Ultimately, OHora seems to suggest that we can find peace and solitude through good music. This quote from Listening to the Music says it all:  “An old time country song comes on and I forgot my troubles listening to the music again.”

Listen to and buy the album here.

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan

This is pure country gold! I am completely smitten with In The Works by The Robert Henry Band. Where in the hell did this guy come from? Apparently, he was born in Florida and lives in Canby, Oregon. This is what country should sound like. Twang out the wazoo and some insanely beautiful pedal steel and electric guitar licks throughout this 20 minute EP. I know, 20 minutes? Well, I think this is the Robert Henry Band’s first release on all the platforms so I hope this is just the beginning. This is only the appetizer course and I now want an entire entree of what Robert Henry is serving up.

The last song on this EP, Something Better takes me right back to 1971 when honky tonk reigned supreme. If fits right in there with Buck, Willie, Waylon, and Johnny. This is a song about a stormy relationship. This song was penned by the Robert Henry Band drummer, Jake Mauro. Unfortunately, the other party in this romance wants out to find “Something Better” and Jake, being the generous fella that he is, is willing to let her go. Even though he still is in love, he doesn’t want to be hanging on a thread. As perfect a country song as you can get.

It seems that no real country artist can exist without making a statement about the current state of main stream country. Storm The Gate is pretty self explanatory. It’s time for a changing of the guard or to “Storm The Gate”. The days when outlaw country was supported by the Nashville elite is now over. And in it’s place was put something that barely resembles country music. Robert knows a thing or two about country music and he also knows the right accompaniments to make a country classic. Another song with gorgeous twang. “They’ve torn down and paved over all the roots that run so deep, don’t that make it kind of hard to grow?” Well stated, Mr. Henry.

In The Works, the title track is a really nice little country ditty, chock full of honky tonk piano, pedal steel, and string bending guitar. As far as the piano goes. I have to say, that is the true standout on this track. Absolute ear candy. It has a little bit of that cosmic cowboy sound of Laurel Canyon, back in the day. In the works is about being bullshitted, plain and simple. That phrase has gone viral and is used all the time to placate people. Q: when will there be a vaccine for COVID 19? A: It’s in the works. Q: when will there be a plan to promote racial harmony in this country? A: It’s in the works. Q: When will the Robert Henry Band release a full length album? A: It’s in the works.

This EP, while only containing six songs, packs a real wallop. It is pure honky tonk, circa early to mid 70s. I can’t wait for the day when I can see all these songs live performed by Robert Henry and company. Unfortunately, I will have to wait for that. In the meantime, I have these songs that are as good as any outlaw country release I have heard in a long while. Anyone who claims to love real classic country needs to git yer hands on this, pronto!

Listen Here

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Reviewed by Mae Hunt

If it’s one thing I’ve learned about Margo Price, it’s that she is not afraid to swim against the current. This American country singer-songwriter has found huge success, but not without turning some heads. After the success of her first two albums, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter and All American Made, Price was encouraged to ride out that success by signing with a large record label and by collaborating with popular artists. She, however, decided to take a different path and pave her own road to fame. 

Her autonomy and riskiness is evident on her latest release, That’s How Rumors Get Started. This 10-track album, signed with the indie label Loma Vista, takes musical risks that cultivate an album largely (but not entirely) defined by classic rock. The upbeat album is an instrumental powerhouse.

Price finds a lyrical balance between highly personal and widely relatable. While many songs refer to individualized experiences, such as her personal challenges with fame (Twinkle Twinkle), others refer to classic themes, such as falling out of love (What Happened to Our Love?). Twinkle Twinkle stands out on the album as the closest to hard rock that Price offers listeners. With a powerful electric guitar that drives the song, Price discusses how she coped with her transition from childhood into fame:  “If it don’t break you it might just make you rich. You might not get there and on the way it’s a bitch.”

Similarly, Stone Me toys with the idea of nostalgia in childhood and the difficulties of adulthood. This slow-paced song reminds me of the childhood chant: Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me. Price croons about how people try to drag her down with their harsh words. She says: “Through the mud and rain you can drag my name. You can say I’ve spent my life in vain. But I won’t be ashamed of what I am.” The sweetness in her voice as she sings suggests that she is taking the higher road and moving forward with her life unapologetically.

The title-track, That’s How Rumors Get Started, accurately defines this album’s overarching message. This powerful song summarizes exactly what Price is trying to get across with this album: be yourself despite what others may think. Clearly, her past challenges in the music industry have motivated and inspired Price to create this edgy album. 

Price’s carefree attitude is evident in her personal life as well, as she advocates for certain social and political movements including Black Lives Matter, mask-wearing, and closing the gender wage gap. I stumbled across one quote in a Rolling Stone review that stood out to me: “There’s countless things I’ve said that definitely cost me record sales. But you have to stand up for what you believe. When people say, ‘You’re not going to be the Dixie Chicks’ – I hate the analogy. I never was trying to be the Dixie Chicks. I’m trying to be Neil Young, motherfuckers.”

Margo Price, you are doing a fantastic job! Ultimately, this album is worth listening to not only for the musical edginess but also for the self-empowerment you will inevitably feel after listening. 

Listen to and buy the album here

Reviewed by Mae Hunt

Listening to Jason Isbell’s Reunions will inevitably leave you feeling nostalgic, but with an urge to rock out nonetheless. Backed by his band, the 400 Unit, the 10-track album mirrors Isbell’s own personal challenges while providing listeners with meticulously produced country rock music. Isbell has won four Grammys (out of four nominations!) and two UK Americana awards (out of two nominations!) – so the success of Reunions does not surprise me. Nonetheless, the Alabama singer has struck gold yet again on his seventh album. 

Let’s begin with the opening track: What’ve I Done to Help? Reflecting on our current political and social turmoil, Isbell engages in self reflection and questions his individual impact on society. The nearly seven minute song is guided by a heavy base and states: “Now the world’s on fire and we just climb higher, ’til we’re no longer bothered by smoke and sound. Good people suffer and the heart gets tougher.” This song sets the tone for the following tracks, most of which stems from self-reflection and the desire to contemplate past turmoils. 

For example, It Gets Easier is directly tied to Isbell’s own battle with alcoholism. In this song, Isbell wisely advises a fellow alcoholic that although it gets easier, it never becomes easy. In a profound verse, he sings: “Last night I dreamed that I’d been drinking. Same dream I have ’bout twice a week. I had one glass of wine, I woke up feeling fine, and that’s how I knew it was a dream.” 

Similarly, St. Peters Autograph was written for his spouse, Amanda Shires, when she was grieving the loss of a friend. This song, perhaps the most sentimental and emotional on the album, is a testament to not only Isbell’s prolific songwriting skills but his ability to pour his heart into his music. The softness of this song, Isbell’s tender voice, and the quiet instrumentals coalesce to create a truly moving piece of music.

In contrast to the intimacy of St. Peters Autograph, Overseas is a roaring rock song with bluesy undertones, combining guitar, fiddles, and synths. Also written in relation to his spouse, Amanda Shires, Isbell shares the devastation and heartbreak that comes with long-distance. Written at the time when Isbell and Shires (also a singer-songwriter) were touring separately, this is yet another powerful song that tugs on the heart-strings. 

Other songs I can’t neglect to mention include the crowd-favorite Dreamsicle, which details sad memories of childhood and left me feeling nostalgic, and Letting You Go, the album finale that follows Isbell’s determination to put his daughter’s needs before his own. The common theme strung throughout the album is perhaps Isbell’s ability to make his own personal experiences relatable, while invoking a strong sense of emotion in his listeners.

Finally, I will leave you with arguably the most nourishing and hopeful song on the album, River. In a metaphoric act, Isbell uses the river to wash away his sins, choosing forgiveness over anger. With piano in the background, Isbell sings: “River, here’s my secrets. Things I cannot tell a soul, like the children that I’ve orphaned and the fortune that I’ve stole.” It is almost baptismal, as though he comes clean after fully admitting his sins. This song is the crux of the album, as each track offers an honest look into Isbell’s life, the pain and the pleasure, with the ultimate goal of forgiveness and acceptance. It’s as though his lyrical transparency has set him free of his past, allowing him to walk confidently towards whatever his future has in store

Listen to and buy Reunions here.

Reviewed by Mae Hunt

A large majority of We Still Go To Rodeos stems from the everlasting theme of romance, both the dreamy highs and the harsh pitfalls. On Don’t Give Up on Me, Rose sings about falling for someone and fighting for that love. Rose hums, “Don’t know what your momma told you, but I know what mine told me. When you find a thing worth fighting for, you fight until you bleed.” Her voice is sweet with acoustics dancing in the background, creating a dreamlike state that correlates a passionate romance. 

In Home with You, Rose croons about a continued flame and thrill in a long-term relationship. This optimistic song expresses dreams of creating a happy life with her lover. In a slow drawl, she sings, “You’ve been my man for so long. It blows my mind how much you still turn me on.” There’s a certain beauty in embracing that old flame that never dies.
In another track-of-frustration, A Hundred Shades of Blue, Rose sings not only about feeling depressed, but also about how often these feelings are invalidated. She sings, “I know a hundred shades of blue. Yes I do, yes I do. If I described each one to you, what would you do? What would you do? Would you understand or would you reprimand each of those hundred shades of blue?” I think this song is particularly important because it validates feelings of depression and despair by emphasizing how frequently they are pushed away as temporary and unimportant.
In stark contrast to the intense highs of love, Rose also sings about the pitfalls. In You’d Blame Me for the Rain, Rose seems to have given up on a relationship that has been going downhill for a long while. It’s calm, cool, and collected which is completely different from Believe Me Angela, a bold plea directly addressed to a younger woman who had an affair with her partner. Rose struggles to balance feelings of hatred and solidarity with Angela, singing: “Angela I like that name. I know you’re not who I should blame. I talked it over with my friends and went and keyed his car instead….” 
Last but certainly not least, I can’t review this album without mentioning the opening track, which also happens to be my personal favorite. In Just Circumstance, Rose empathizes with those who are handed an unlucky deck in life. I draw parallels between this track and In a Rut, which is a fiery track that encapsulated the frustration of being in an emotional downturn. Overall, Rose has an impressive ability to encapsulate many life experiences into 12 short songs. I will definitely keep tabs on this artist and recommend you do the same!
Listen to or buy We Still Go to Rodeos here.

Reviewed by Mae Hunt

Country musician Ted Russell Kamp’s recently released album, Down in the Den, is dense with soulful and diverse tracks. Kamp is well-known as a bassist for popular bands (including Shooter Jennings, Jessi Colter, and Whitney Morgan) but takes center stage on these 14 tracks. This album, his 12th independent record, highlights Kamp’s powerful vocals, lyrical abilities, even his trumpet-playing skills. Most of the album was recorded in Kamp’s home studio, The Den, which inspired the album title. 

What impressed me most about the album was Kamp’s range, both lyrically and instrumentally. Though primarily rooted in Americana music, Kamp offers his listeners diversified tracks, which include a range of instrumentals: bass, acoustic guitar, trumpet, banjo, dobro, and keyboard. In addition, Kamp pulls in various artists to create a diverse mix of songs. All of these elements combine to cultivate an album that ranges from whimsical to sensitive to soulful. 

Down in the Den is kicked off with the upbeat and cheerful Home Sweet Hollywood. Country rock to the core, this song details Kamp’s experience being in the heart of Hollywood’s music industry and prioritizing music over money. His love for the place that he considers home is evident, as he sings: “Home sweet Hollywood, you gotta be crazy to stay. Home sweet Hollywood, I wouldn’t have it any other way.” 

In one of my favorite tracks of the album, Waste a Little Time, Kamp light-heartedly sings about romance. The song begins with a single trumpet (yes, it’s Kamp on the trumet!), which is later accompanied by guitars and keyboard (which are also by Kamp’s hand!). His musical prowess is certainly evident here, as in many other tracks. Other talented musicians join Kamp’s instrumentals, including Mike Bray (vocals), Jim Doyle (drums), and Bart Ryan (guitar). Together, the vocals and instrumentals coalesce to create a tongue-in-cheek melody: “We got nowhere to be and not a thing to do, we won’t do nothing that we don’t want to do. So waste a little time, waste a little time with me.”

In another whimsical track, Hobo Nickel, Kamp sings about a happy-go-lucky vagabond with few belongings, no destination, and loads of freedom. The song is brimming with fingerpicking banjo and guitar while Kamp sings cheerfully along. That same fingerpicking technique appears in Stick With Me, though this track introduces a sensitive element to the album. In this love song about a marriage proposal, Kamp drawls: “Must have been a million miles before I found you, waiting tables in an Oakland drive. I’m a better man and ready for a round two. I hope this ring will say what words just can’t.”

In the ballad Only Son, Kamp’s voice is joined by Shane Alexander on vocals and together their voices carry the deep track, accompanied by Dan Wistrom’s pedal steel. Only Son contemplates the concept of time and how quickly it passes: “Time rushes by like a river will flow. Years they will come and the years they will go.” As the pace and momentum increase, the instrumentals pick up and transform the track from soft to sweeping. 

Each and every one of the 14-tracks are worthy of attention, but to wrap it up, I’ll touch on the album’s finale. Take My Songs With You, written with Kristen Proffitt, is the perfect resolution. Down in the Den contains songs that can be listened to in various states. For example, on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I might throw on the blissful The Good Part. On the other hand, when seeking comfort from a higher power, I would listen to the sentimental track, Hold On. Ultimately, the album’s closing track is Kamp’s hope that listeners will take pieces of the album with them moving forward. I certainly will!

Buy Down in the Den here.

Reviewed by Mae Hunt
Jaime Wyatt’s Neon Cross, recently released at the end of May, is simply spectacular. The bluesy album begins with Sweet Mess, an intense piano ballad that highlights Wyatt’s powerful voice. This track shares Wyatt’s raw emotions in the wake of a crumbling relationship. The undeniable abandonment and sorrow in her voice set the tone for the rest of the album. Throughout the 11 tracks, Wyatt details the raw emotions tied to overcoming personal battles and the empowering independence that follows. Though an arduous journey, her ultimate destination is self-discovery and self-acceptance.
I would be remiss not to mention all Wyatt has overcome, including a heroine addiction, jail time, and coming out as gay. Many of her battles clearly fuel the album, as she connects each track to her personal experiences. Personally, I think the autobiographical element of the album is what makes it so powerful. Wyatt draws on individual experiences to create raw, emotional, and moving lyrics paired with instrumentals ranging from melancholy to crashing.
In Mercy, Wyatt yet again shows off her vocals in a gut-wrenching plea for compassion. Her voice nearly breaking, she cries, “Mercy, I need Mercy…Mercy, don’t try to hurt me.” The song seems to be written from rock bottom in an almost-prayer for someone to offer her refuge. In the more hopeful L I V I N, she reflects on her challenges and seems to yearn for a way out of her challenged life. In this twangy (and slightly sassy) track Wyatt sings her heart out while instrumentals strum along in the background, creating arguably one of the catchiest songs on the album. 
Despite the heavy nature of the lyrics, Wyatt offers listeners plenty catchy, toe-tapping beats. In Make Something Outta Me, a country rock track, Wyatt aspires for more with her life, announcing: “If god made a world out of nothing, why can’t he make something out of me?” Similarly, the upbeat and hoppy Rattlesnake Girl is another one of my favorites. This edgy track is essentially Wyatt’s way of coming out publicly to the world: “I see my sweet friends out on the weekends, they all look happy and gay. They keep their secrets all covered in sequins, people have too much to say.” This song, manifesting the honky tonk spirit, is sung with pride as she declares her true identity.
The incorporation of personal experiences into the album continues. Just a Woman begins with a slow drawl and turns into an empowering ballad sung with country musician Jessi Colter. This song speaks to the experience of being a woman not only in the music industry, but in her day-to-day life. She says: “There is no man in this world I would rather be.” 
Finally, Neon Cross is the anthem that solidifies the album. In this upbeat and banjo-driven song, Wyatt declares her devotion to living her truest life, regardless of what others think. So devoted, in fact, that she is willing to be hung on a neon cross for it. Like in Mercy and L I V I N, there are evident references to Christ, but Wyatt replaces the wooden cross with a neon one. She is defiant, stubborn, and authentic. Though her battles have been burdensome, they have shaped Wyatt into who she is today, and she seems unwilling to be anyone other than her unique self. 
Listen to and buy Neon Cross here

Reviewed by Mae Hunt
Sarah Jarosz’s fifth album, World on the Groundis bursting with contemporary folk and progressive country tracks. Created in collaboration with musician and producer John Leventha, the lyrics share reflections on Jarosz’s hometown of Wimberley, Texas. Wimberley, a small town with a population of only 2,626, inspires a string of reflective songs that show off Jarosz’s lyrical and vocal skills. Her voice, never overpowered by the instrumentals, carries each song while banjos, mandolins, and guitars dance in the background creating an intimate listening experience. 
The highly personal album captures Jarosz’s storytelling abilities. Although I have never been to Wimberley myself, I can picture the small town from the vivid descriptions embedded into each track. The song’s opening track, Eve, begins: “A long, long time ago, in a little Texas town…” and describes “the wilderness and the cypress trees, and the night birds all around” that litter the landscape. Similarly, in Hometown, Jarosz depicts the “cedars and the oaks” and the “light above the hills” in a way that transports listeners to the quaint town. 
In addition to the scenery, some tracks call out and describe various small town characters. In Johnny, Jarosz’s honeyed voice describes a local boy’s return to Wimberly as she sadly wonders: “How could a boy from a little bay town grow up to be a man, fly the whole world round, then end up back on the same damn ground he started.” In this track and in many others, subtle key changes and silky vocals draw the listener in as Jarosz wrestles with a contradicting desire to both stay and leave her hometown.
Maggie depicts a girl who yearns to escape the small town, perhaps emulating Jarosz’s eventual relocation to New York City where she now resides. Maggie hopes to escape the “football games” and “processed food” of the small town by driving “across the desert, in a blue ford escape.” The unique melody and guitar work in combination with Jarosz’s soft voice create a feeling of nostalgia that coincides with the departure of her beloved town. 
The album’s finale, Little Satchel, speaks to the adventures that lay ahead. This bluegrass song is bursting with banjo strumming while Jarozs’s strong southern accent makes an appearance. This song depicts falling in love and dreaming of a full life beyond the little town, perhaps in California or Louisiana.
Despite a clear yearning to move on from her small town, a deep love for Wimberley is consistent throughout the album. This love is particularly strong in Orange and Blue when she says: “I think I found it now, and nothing else will do. A heart that burns so true, burning orange and blue.” Regardless of where life takes her, she will always find comfort for the place where she grew up. I don’t know about you all, but that sentiment speaks to me!
Buy World on the Ground here.

Reviewed by Mae Hunt

Lilly Hiatt’s Walking Proof is a classic country album with hints of electronic pop and waves of indie rock that distinguish it as one-of-a-kind. This Nashville-based singer-songwriter’s music strikes me as classic yet quirky, traditional yet unique. How is it possible to balance such extremities? Listen to the album here and see for yourself.

Abundant with vivid imagery, the album for some may serve simply as a dream-like escape from reality. However, while this Rolling Stones article states that Walking Proof is neither autobiographical nor social commentary, I believe there are both meaningful and intentional themes strung throughout Hiatt’s 11 tracks. The songs include themes of love, transition, and adulthood that I believe serve simultaneously as light, leisurely tunes and inspirational, sincere reflections. 

I love the way the album begins, with a declaration of adoration for Hiatt’s younger sister, Rae. If you have sisters yourself, this song will hit home. In a sweet and twangy voice, Hiatt depicts the inexplicable connection between sisters: “Nobody gets it like you do Rae, I put so much on you Rae, ‘Cause nobody gets it like you do.” That platonic love is echoed in Brightest Star, which is an uplifting melody directed at someone overcoming innocent drama, such as boys and school. In this catchy and optimistic song, Hiatt writes: “The brightest star in my whole sky is you.”

In contrast to this platonic love, the album has many tracks that portray fleeting romances. P-Town, for example, shares the slightly humorous story of a romantic getaway gone wrong. Little Believer, one of the most rock-and-roll tracks on the album, is a classic tale of unrequited love: “I haven’t been there much for you, at least not how I’ve wanted to.”

Alright, enough about love. Despite the Rolling Stones article’s statement that the album is not social commentary, there are subtle messages about the world in which we live. For example, Candy Lunch begs the question, “Why does every boy I meet try to tell me how to live or what to eat?” Some Kind of Drug makes an explicit reference to both Nashville’s  gentrification and homelessness problem, stating: “Who are these strangers in my town that just want to tear everything down? And I know it’s everybody’s dream but I swear to god I can’t hear a heartbeat.”  While I don’t think the album is littered with social commentary, it is undoubtedly there, primarily speaking to Hiatt’s experience as a female artist and long-time Nashville resident. 

Finally, there are moments of empowerment and self-love that bring the album home. Never Play Guitar is essentially a love song written for her guitar. In this soft rock song, Hiatt implies that men rarely understand her need for a room of her own to play guitar. The final song, Scream, depicts a woman moving on from a man who made her give up parts of herself. “I played my guitar softly for you” she declares in one of my favorite lines of the album. At the end, she states, “I’m moving on for nobody but myself.”

Interestingly, the almost-eerie nature of the final song is completely different from the upbeat bops of other tracks, perhaps implying some uncertainty in taking life’s next steps. Regardless of whether you are seeking a catchy escape-from-reality, melodious reflections on life, or something in between, Hiatt’s album is definitely worth the listen.

Buy Walking Proof

Reviewed by Mae Hunt
I have a deep appreciation for talented artists who do not shy away from controversy. In Good Souls, Better Angels, Lucinda Williams does just that, addressing head-on many contentious topics, such as mental illness, domestic abuse, and the devil. The unapologetically loud lyrics paired with a unique bluesy-punk pulse coincide to create perhaps the best album I have listened to in a long while. 
Undefinable by just one category, the genre-hopping 12 tracks are versatile. At times, Williams emulates spoken word poetry (Wakin’ Up) and at others she echoes punk rock (Down Past the Bottom). Her raspy voice, which ranges from hissing to bellowing, is paired with pounding drums, electric guitars, and a velvety bass that generate a unique sound for each track.
Released in April 2020, in the midst of social movements, a global pandemic, and politically divided citizens, the album addresses the madness of our current world. In Bad News Blues, Williams voices the relatable inescapability of constant bad news – it satiates our TVs and magazines, reaching us in elevators, in the car, and at the bar. This despair is echoed in Man Without a Soul and, considering the political nature of the album, the unnamed man likely alludes to a man with an overwhelmingly recognizable name, our very own President Trump. 
In Big Black Train, Williams shifts away from punk rock and offers us a soulful ballad narrating experiences with depression. Her voice fluctuates between broken and unwavering, as she declares: “I don’t wanna get on board…last time through it took me far away…didn’t know if I was ever coming back.” Not surprisingly, Big Black Train is followed by perhaps the most triggering and raw song on the album, Wakin’ Up. This angry, grungy, electronic track shares the experience of a woman escaping an abusive relationship. The song consists of short syllables and simple rhymes, somewhat resembling a spoken word poem in which the woman’s anger and fear is palpable.
So, yes, Williams undoubtedly ventures to the dark places many artists are unwilling to go. However, she does not simply take us there only to abandon us. Undeniable hope glimmers through many tracks. In the Pray the Devil Back to Hell, Williams sings about resistance and perseverance through inner turmoil. In the quiet and melodious When the Way Gets Dark, she offers inspiring and hopeful words of wisdom. Her croons, “la la laaa”, sounds tired, perhaps from fighting countless uphill battles, but the message is clear: “Don’t give up, hang on tight, don’t be afraid, it’s gonna be alright….” 
I simply cannot get enough of Lucinda Williams. She uses her 42 years in the music industry, during which she has won three Grammy Awards and two Americana Awards, to create electrifying and thought-provoking music. Not only is she bold, daring, and unforgiving, but she is willing to display those characteristics in her music to create a downright inspiring album.
Listen and buy Good Souls Better Angels