LOS ANGELES: Appreciated as much for her distinctive vocals as for her insightful, soulful lyrics, Lucinda Williams is an American treasure. Scaling new peaks as she plays through the 30th year of her prolific career, she continues to tour and record exceptional new songs. Pitchfork.com recently noted, “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.”
On the new double CD/LP, recently released on Thirty Tigers, Williams and manager/ husband Tom Overby decided to record ‘live’ in the studio with members of her touring band. After the sessions and mixing were complete, tracking/mixing engineer, David Bianco recommended Brian Lucey of Magic Garden Mastering to provide the final touch.
“I co-produced the Ghosts of Highway 20 double album, with Lucinda and Tom Overby, just as I had with their previous Spirit Meets the Bone, project,” says Greg Leisz, long-time pedal steel player for Jackson Browne. “David Bianco, brought Brian Lucey on board to master the new record which was tracked primarily with Lucinda’s touring rhythm section, Butch Norton on drums, David Sutton on bass, Bill Frisell and myself on electric guitars. Lucinda played guitar on some of the tracks and a few subtle percussion and background vocals as well. There are no overdubs on the record – we recorded that way because we were attempting to capture Lucinda’s vocals and the musician’s responses to her performances in the truest, most immediate way.
“Bill Frisell and I have played a lot together and have a very symbiotic dialogue-driven way of responding to each other’s playing, so the guitar arrangements were created spontaneously as the tracks were recorded,” Leisz adds. “I think Brian’s master did a great job of keeping the focus on Lucinda’s vocals while remaining faithful to the immediacy of the instrumental performances and, on David Bianco’s wonderful mixes.”
“Brian added a nice thickness to the mixes and retained the warmth I was going for,” observed engineer/mixer, David Bianco. “In the recording I didn’t cowboy it up with the EQ, but preferred to keep it natural – Hi Fi, not dull, but very real. Brian intuitively maintained that esthetic and improved the bottom end in the process.”
Commenting on the project Brian Lucey remarked, “It’s always a pleasure to work with a great engineer like David Bianco, and Lucinda’s artistic commitment is as good as it gets. The musicality and organic interplay of this band in studio was a delight to enhance.
Photo: Magic Garden Mastering Engineer Brian Lucey with Lucinda Williams’
The Ghost Of Highway 20 LP.
For a taste of the pleasures of the new Lucinda Williams album visit: If My Love Could Kill
About Brian Lucey and Magic Garden Mastering: Beginning in the East Village, at 19, Brian was a professional musician (guitar, voice, piano). Moving on as a student of Robert Fripp and Guitar Craft through his 20s, he became a tracking engineer, mixing engineer and eventually a producer of organic music (Ampex MM1200 2” tape). Mastering came last, and his collective previous experiences all play into his uniquely musical take on the craft. Originally from the great music city of Columbus, Ohio he now works out of Los Angeles.