Lucinda's Intimate Evening; ALAN NICHOL Catches Up with Lucinda Williams, Who Is at Sage Gateshead Next Week
TRAVELLING, that universal theme for so many songs, is in the DNA of Louisiana-born Lucinda Williams who arrives at Sage Gateshead (Hall 1) on Tuesday night.
From childhood to current European tour, the suitcase has been virtually inseparable from the guitar-case. Emmylou Harris, among others, has covered her songs but it was the release of Car Wheels On A Gravel Road (Lost Highway Records) in 1998 that signalled to the world that Lucinda Williams had at last arrived, some 20 years after her initial release.
I spoke to her last week and she recalled the Car Wheels period clearly. "Prior to Car Wheels I'd been bouncing from label to label, typical problems going on within the business. Once I got with Lost Highway Records, Car Wheels got done and I had to put out a certain number of albums, that was my contract.
"I got used to the process of writing, recording and touring. Prior to that album, I didn't have that much studio experience."
There have been six albums since - all making a distinct chart impression around the world (and two more Grammy awards) - the last of which was Blessed in 2011.
The demise of Lost Highway means Lucinda is currently considering label offers.
This particular tour - Sage being one of only a handful of UK shows - is billed as An Intimate Evening with Lucinda Williams. The format is Lucinda on guitar/vocals, the ever-inventive Doug Pettibone on guitars/mandolin and David Sutton on bass.
A drums-free combo which works a treat, as Lucinda says: "We rock pretty hard for a three-piece. We do pretty much the same songs as we'd do with a drummer but some artists feel constrained by that. I've always felt that they're all 'small songs' initially - in that I write them all with just my guitar. Even with bigger numbers like Righteously, I feel I can break any song down and do it, almost to the demo version, the way I wrote it.
"It's fun and challenging to see what we can do with different songs. People really like it because I've been including some new songs, too. Audience favourites like Broken Angel and Pineola are in there, though. …