Aidin Vaziri | The songs on Lucinda Williams’ new double album “Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone” — by turns unhinged and deeply measured — don’t necessarily lend themselves to being played in front of tens of thousands of people at an open-air festival. But the Los Angeles singer-songwriter, 61, has a surefire plan for her appearance Friday at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. “When we do outdoor shows like that, we try to rock it up a bit more,” she says. “We do some of the more recognizable songs — my, if you will, hits, like ‘Drunken Angel,’ ‘Side of the Road,’ ‘Joy.’ What’s surprising, though, is that people will pay attention to everything.” Not that Williams has much to worry about. Several critics have already hailed “Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone” as one of the best releases in her 30-plus-year career.
Aidin Vaziri | Prolific indie rocker M. Ward and “New Girl” star Zooey Deschanel have cleared their schedules long enough to take their musical act, She & Him, on the road this month in support of their new album, “Volume III.” In keeping with its two predecessors (and one holiday music collection), the music sounds vaguely old-fashioned and entirely adorable. The duo will perform Saturday at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, with support from Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell. We spoke with Ward at his home in Portland, Ore.
Q: You’ve worked with a lot of female singers, including Norah Jones and Lucinda Williams. What keeps you coming back to Zooey Deschanel?
A: She keeps writing great songs. I’m a big fan of her singing style and her vocal arrangements. She’s very easy to work with. It’s a great project.
Q: You both have such full schedules. Is it crazy complicated trying to get together to make an album?
A: It’s comfortably complicated. We find time on weekends to record in Los Angeles. We find a month here and there to support the record. It’s mainly a recording project. We love to play live shows whenever we can, but we’re not one of those projects that tours all the time.
Q: Once again, the music sounds like it comes from another time and place. Do you fantasize about a specific era when you go into the studio?
A: There’s no specific era. It’s this imaginary era that never really existed. It’s about finding out where the song wants to go. I never want to force a song to sound like a certain genre or certain decade.