The Ghosts of Highway 20

Lucinda Williams - The Ghosts of Highway 20
Critic Score
Based on 15 reviews
2016 Ratings: #60 / 763
User Score
Based on 69 ratings
2016 Ratings: #354
February 5, 2016 / Release Date
LP / Format
Highway 20 / Label
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What could be a sad or ruminative record is more a triumphant road reflection. From the title, evoking the Southern highway from Florida to Louisiana Williams has traveled since she was a small girl, these songs are journeys literal and metaphorical.
Slant Magazine
More than anything else, and almost ironically, Williams's location-specific concept album serves as a reminder that her best songs need not inhabit one specific place, geographically or emotionally.
It’s defiantly, proudly, and gorgeously organic, in a different universe from today’s processed digital pop.
The Guardian
Her new set mixes country influences with gospel and blues, and is notable both for the strength of her highly personal songwriting, her weathered, slurred and defiant vocals, and the inventive arrangements, featuring atmospheric, brooding guitar textures from Greg Leisz and the ever-adventurous Bill Frisell.
Some people may find it all a bit too glum and downbeat, especially over the course of an hour – this isn’t the sort of music you can stick on for some background listening. Those who do take the time will be richly rewarded, for Lucinda Williams is still playing at the height of her considerable powers.

As if to spite an industry with which she’s forever wrestled, 2014’s Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone and the new The Ghosts of Highway 20 rank among the best works of her career.

Rolling Stone
Yeah, it's literary; yeah, it's the polar opposite of cosmetic-surgery pop. As such, it's not for everyone. But its jazzy rawness represents a high point of emotional craft in a career defined by it.
It’s a road album, sure, but more importantly, it’s the character study of a woman coming face to face with the ghosts of her past, dredging up every blues-tinged “Bitter Memory” along the way.

After releasing one of the best and boldest albums of her career with Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, Williams goes from strength to strength with The Ghosts of Highway 20, and it seems like a welcome surprise that she's moving into one of the most fruitful periods of her recording career as she approaches her fourth decade as a musician.

NOW Magazine

Williams gives her songs more room to breathe than ever before, opening up vast, cinematic visions of the highway and land that inspired them.


The Ghosts Of Highway 20 is vast, thoughtful and profound.

Consequence of Sound

The Ghosts of Highway 20 never delves into what could have very easily become self-involved drivel. Williams avoids that pitfall by creating or relaying the truth of her own vulnerabilities through the lives of those characters on which each song focuses.

Drowned in Sound
Her lazy, beaten drawl is an acquired taste, and she wears her scars and bruises for all to see, but Lucinda Williams’ tear-stained tales are so vivid and evocative it’s hard not be haunted.
It’s a hell of a ramble, but it feels like it comes from a real enough place.
It's a bit of a frustrating listen. The compositions are absolutely stunning, they're played beautifully, the lyrics are strong...and then you have Lucinda slurring her words, sounding more than a little drunk throughout.
I can't help but feel that I'd love this album if it was performed by literally anyone else. I understand her vocal style plays into the whole country/americana "down to earth", "real America" aspects of this album, but damn, if I want to listen to ... read more
I honestly just couldn't bear through the album for multiple listens. It is a very lengthy record with production that just isn't really interesting. The lyrics were the only thing that kept me interested but I don't find myself listening to this again. It's just not for me.
Really impressed with the sound Lucinda Williams achieves with The Ghosts of Highway 20. It feels dark, sweet and sometimes it gets nostalgic for some reason. She talks about a lot of themes and I'm not afraid to say that her lyrics are so inspiring, I don't know, at some point it's like she's telling you this story from her deepest thoughts and emotions without getting pretentious or feeling distant, it's very human. Still, I had trouble with the vocals, I thought they were like too much, ... read more
The veteran singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams returns after a successful last work. The Ghosts of Highway 20 brings once again a scope of everything she has done before in a rather long career. The austere, depressive stream-of-consciousness style of composition and lyricism is, unsurprisingly apparent through the whole tracklisting, with some free-form songs that may even pass the ten-minute mark, resembling some of Bob Dylan's most abstract songs from Highway 61 Revisited era. Surely ... read more
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Track List

  1. Dust
  2. House of Earth
  3. I Know All About It
  4. Place in My Heart
  5. Death Came
  6. Doors of Heaven
  7. Louisiana Story
  8. The Ghosts of Highway 20
  9. Bitter Memory
  10. Factory
  11. Can't Close the Door on Love
  12. If My Love Could Kill
  13. If There's a Heaven
  14. Faith and Grace
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Added on: November 1, 2015