Lucinda Williams never backs down from a challenge, whether collaborating with surprisingly kindred spirits like M. Ward and Flogging Molly or putting her own spin on iconic tunes like Bob Dylan’s “Positively 4th Street” and Jimmy Webb’s classic “Galveston.” She’s taken that same approach to her most recent recordings as a solo artist as well: The 2006 release West and 2008’s buoyant Little Honey - which Paste hailed as “an album that brims with varied, impeccable writing” - made for an ethereal emotional travelogue that takes in both great loss and the sort of discovery one can only make when emotional barriers are taken down. Her new album Blessed, recorded at the end of what Williams calls “a really big writing streak that gave me enough to make two albums,” reveals some of the most straightforward songs she’s ever written. While it’s not a concept album as such, Blessed – recorded with producer Don Was – brings together a dozen masterfully-crafted pieces that fall into place beautifully, their welcoming sonic tenor offering an ideal foil for the conversational narrative that runs through the dozen short stories – tales that take in plenty of topical territory, but invariably end up offering the listener a sense of affirmation.
Since the release of the Amos Lee album in 2005, the Philadelphia-born and –based former schoolteacher has been one of his generation’s most celebrated songwriters. After being named one of Rolling Stone’s “Top 10 Artists to Watch,” Lee quickly went on to tour with such giants as Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard, Paul Simon, and Elvis Costello. His third album. Mission Bell, released at the beginning of 2011 and produced by Joey Burns of the acclaimed band Calexico, displays both range and cohesion, an array of emotions unified by Lee’s eclectic taste and distinctive vocals. It’s easily Lee’s richest and most fully formed album to date. Willie Nelson who guests on the album says “Great songwriters don’t come around that often. Amos is an exceptional artist, a true story teller, unique to his generation.” Other guests on the album include Lucinda Williams, Sam Beam (Iron & Wine), James Gadson, Priscilla Ahn, and Pieta Brown—with the musical backing of Calexico. Mission Bell marks the arrival of Amos Lee as a mature artist who continues to explore his musical and thematic interests.
Tickets for Lucinda Williams and Amos Lee on Saturday, July 23rd, 7PM at Mountain Park in Holyoke are $55.00, $45.00, and $30.00 and go on sale this Friday, April 15th at Northampton Box Office, 76 Main Street, 413-586-8686 and online at IHEG.com. This is a co-bill with both artists playing complete sets. Lucinda will close the show.
Tickets also go on sale this very same Friday, April 15th for Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas at Mountain Park in Holyoke on Sunday, July 24th (the night after Lucinda and Amos) and Return To Forever IV- Hymn of the 7th Galaxy Tour featuring Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, Jean Luc Ponty, Frank Gambale at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton on Friday, June 24th.