Lucinda Williams' 2014 began in the past -- she reissued her 25-year-old self-titled country-folk-rock breakthrough, the album with "Passionate Kisses," "Changed the Locks" and "The Night's Too Long," telling reporters it was a "labor of love" with an $18,000 budget.
And it'll end in the future -- in September, she'll put out "Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone," a double album with "more soulful stuff" than usual.
"I surprised myself," the veteran singer-songwriter says by phone from a tour stop in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. "I was in a writing period and I just kept coming up with more songs."
The three-time Grammy winner plays two Long Island dates this week -- Thursday night at The Space at Westbury and Saturday night at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center.
What happened between 1980's sparse and bluesy Smithsonian Folkways album "Happy Woman Blues" and 1988's richer and more enduring "Lucinda Williams"?
Well, the Folkways album, I spent most of that time in between Austin and Houston, Texas, just kind of honing my craft, and then in 1984 I moved to Los Angeles. A friend of mine had suggested I come out, and set some gigs up for me, and I just ended up staying out there. I guess it was just a growth period.
You've said you learned a great deal from your dad, poet Miller Williams, about writing and editing. How so?
As soon as I was full-blown writing songs, he would give me constructive criticism. It was sort of an apprenticeship, almost, without me realizing it at the time. Even as late as all the songs on 'Car Wheels,' I made sure he heard all those songs before I recorded them. Because I just looked up to him so much.
Can you give an example?
I'd already written "Drunken Angel." You know that line in "Lake Charles," where it says, "Did an angel whisper in your ear?" My dad said, "It's not a good idea. You shouldn't use the word angel, because you've already used it in 'Drunken Angel.'" I said, "There's nothing else that's going to fit there." ... He said, "OK, but you can't use it again in any other songs."
Do you still send him songs for critique?
No! Not anymore. Well, on "Essence," I still sent him all the songs before I recorded and I said, "Dad, what do you think?" and he said, "I think it's the closest thing to poetry you've ever done." I said, "Does that mean I've graduated?" and he laughed and said, "Yes." Isn't that sweet?
How would you describe the sound of the upcoming album?
It's a combination of the stuff that I always do -- rock and country and bluesy kind of stuff. There is a certain thing that I found myself getting into when I was writing it, which I refer to as country-soul, which is kind of like the Dan Penn-Spooner Oldham stuff and Tony Joe White and Bobbie Gentry. I have more soulful stuff, like more beats than I usually do. I've been playing several songs live from this tour and the response has been more positive. Usually when you're presenting songs they're not familiar with, they're not going to respond the same way. These, just right off the bat, seemed to be going over really well.
Where did you get the title "Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone"?
It comes from one of my dad's poems, called "Compassion." And actually, I took the poem and turned it into a song and included it for the album. That's something I wanted to do for years. It's not an easy thing to accomplish. I'm really proud of that.
Did you and your dad collaborate on the song?
It's all his words, so it's like a cowrite.
Did you have to register your dad with one of the songwriter services, ASCAP or BMI, so he can get royalty payments?
No! I already talked to Tom about that. I'm not sure how we're going to work that out.
WHO Lucinda Williams
WHEN | WHERE Thursday night at 7, The Space at Westbury; Saturday at 8 p.m., Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center
TICKETS $40-$60 (Westbury); $85-$135 (Westhampton)