More than 40 unheard songs await recording once Lucinda Williams wraps a month-long tour in early February and secures her first new contract in 15 years, the singer-songwriter tells Rolling Stone.
"We've got a couple of really good offers," Williams said in a phone interview from her Los Angeles home earlier this month. "If the wheels roll in the right direction, we'd like to go to the studio sometime in March."
In late 2011, the three-time Grammy winner parted with her label of 13 years, Lost Highway Records, the Universal Music imprint behind releases from Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello, Ryan Bingham and Morrissey. Williams' husband and manager, Tom Overby, said he hopes to ink a deal soon for the as-yet-untitled 10th studio album, which will include songs like "Something Wicked This Way Comes" and "I Look at the World."
"I've got a bunch of stuff, whole bunch of songs. I've got about 40-plus ones, some of which are finished, some of which just need a little bit of this, a little bit of that," Williams said.
"I've heard a lot of it," said Eric Liljestrand, who with Overby co-produced Williams' last two albums, Little Honey and Blessed. "You get her in the moment and she just bowls you over with this perfect thing." The three met over Christmas and discussed "booking a day here and there" to explore the best material to fit onto a single disc. Records by Southern soul artists like Clarence Carter and Dan Penn have inspired the most recent work.
Williams, who will play the Ann Arbor Folk Festival on her 60th birthday later this month, told Rolling Stone she had amassed her latest batch of songs while writing in her usual workspace – the kitchen – with her guitar, laptop and digital recorder within reach.
"See, I like writing under pressure," she said with a laugh. "I have a tendency to kind of work against a deadline, you know? I don't know why. I've always kind of been that way. I told Tom we can just stay on the road all the time like Willie [Nelson] does. It's kind of hard sometimes to find the time to get in a studio."
The anti-capital punishment activist recently remade her 1998 song "Joy" for the new West of Memphis: Voices for Justice soundtrack, which honors the freed West Memphis Three and features Bob Dylan and Patti Smith.