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First Album Since 2020 Stroke featuring Guest Appearances by Bruce Springsteen, Margo Price, Buddy Miller, Tommy Stinson and Angel Olsen
Lucinda Williams' music has gotten her through her darkest days. Over the past two years, it's been the force driving her recovery from a debilitating stroke she suffered on November 17, 2020, at age 67. Her masterful, multi-Grammy-winning songwriting has never deserted her. To wit, her stunning, sixteenth studio album, Stories from a Rock n Roll Heart, brims over with some of the best work of her career. And though Williams can no longer play her beloved guitar – a constant companion since age 12 – her distinctive vocals sound better than ever.

Recording sessions began in November 2021 and – as Williams' strength increased, continued into 2022. She and co-producer Tom Overby rejoined Ray Kennedy, co-producer and engineer of her landmark Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (1998), with whom she reunited to cut Good Souls Better Angels. In addition to Williams' longtime touring guitarist Stuart Mathis, joining the mix were drummer Steve Ferrone (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers), keyboardist Reese Wynans (the Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble vet who appeared on Essence), bassist Steve Mackey (Dolly Parton), and pedal steel/guitarist Doug Pettibone, who played with Williams earlier in her career. "Since I couldn't teach the band the songs on guitar, I would sing it to give an idea of the feel and the vibe," says Williams. "We'd do it a few times until we got the right groove. It was really challenging because I wasn't playing guitar. But sometimes when things are challenging like that, good stuff can come out of it."

And it certainly did! The band rocks out on the album's jubilant opening track "Let's Get the Band Back Together," which features a gang of background singers, including Margo Price and Buddy Miller. Inspired by "that need for community after all the isolation of the pandemic," Williams offers, the song is "about getting old friends together again who'd drifted apart." Price also joins her on the bluesy protest "This Is Not My Town." The evocative "New York Comeback" also includes guest vocalists – Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa. With Wynans on B3 and the Pettibone-Mathis guitar attack, the musical setting perfectly matches the theme of "Comeback," as well as on the catchy story-song "Rock N' Roll Heart," to which Springsteen and Scialfa also contributed vocals. Another musical hero of Williams, the late Tom Petty is the subject of the elegiac "Stolen Moments." Williams, who'd toured with Petty in 1999, played his last Hollywood Bowl shows before his sudden death in October 2017. Another fallen musician, Bob Stinson, founding lead guitarist of the Replacements, inspired "Hum's Liquor." Tommy Stinson added vocals to the track. The album is also dedicated to Bob Stinson, "a true rock n roll heart."

Williams' own rock n roll life is reflected in several of the album's most moving ballads. The bittersweet "Last Call for the Truth" finds her asking for "one more taste of my lost youth," while on "Jukebox," her corner-bar Wurlitzer with "Patsy Cline and Muddy Waters" offers solace when she's "going crazy with the sound of my own voice." Angel Olsen contributes backing vocals on the latter, and vocalist Siobhan Maher Kennedy appears on the former. The haunting "Where the Song Will Find Me" is beautifully orchestrated with layers of violin and cello, played and arranged by Lawrence Rothman. And the ode to perseverance, "Never Gonna Fade Away," is – like Williams' live performances – further testimony to the redemptive power of music.

As she promises on the powerful last track of Stories from a Rock n Roll Heart – one of the best albums of her career – Lucinda Williams is "never gonna fade away."
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