Personnel: Luke Winslow-King (vocals, guitar); Roberto Luti (electric guitar); Matt Rhody (violin); Mike Lynch (Clavinet, organ, Wurlitzer organ); Tyler Thompson (upright bass, electric bass); Brennan Andes (electric bass); Benji Bohannon (drums).
Audio Mixer: Collin Dupuis.
Recording information: 360 Music Factory, Livorno, Italy (07/2015); Parlor Studios, New Orleans, LA (07/2015); 360 Music Factory, Livorno, Italy (10/2015); Parlor Studios, New Orleans, LA (10/2015).
Photographers: Zack Smith; Victor Alonso .
Arranger: Luke Winslow-King.
It's a given that breaking up with your spouse is going to put you through some changes, and it's clear Luke Winslow-King knows all about that. Winslow-King used to be married to vocalist Esther Rose, who was his partner in music as well as life, but the couple divorced in October 2015, and Winslow-King's romantic troubles clearly inspired many of the songs on 2016's I'm Glad Trouble Don't Last Always. That one is called "Esther Please" is a big giveaway, but the dedication to his ex is the real tip-off, along with the note, "Thank you for helping me to better understand the true nature of love and loss." In a word: Ouch! There's a certain amount of heartache and strife in I'm Glad Trouble Don't Last Always, but there are plenty of really fine songs too, and the inspiration has helped him make perhaps his best album to date. The material on I'm Glad Trouble Don't Last Always sounds tougher and harder-edged than 2014's Everlasting Arms, with Winslow-King's guitar work gaining some bite over the space of two years. And the retro approach of his earlier work has given way to a more modern attack here, though he's still clearly learned a lot from the masters of the blues. "On My Way," "Change Your Mind," and "Watch Me Go" are steeped in classic soul as well as vintage blues, and Winslow-King nails the thin line between sorrow and bitterness, while his vocals are impassioned and direct without going over the top. (However, "Act Like You Love Me" suggests he may have forgiven but he sure hasn't forgotten.) And Winslow-King put together a killer band for these sessions, with bassist Brennan Andes, drummer Benji Bohannon, and keyboard man Mike Lynch keeping the soulful flavors strong throughout. I'm Glad Trouble Don't Last Always isn't Luke Winslow-King's happiest album by a long shot, but it feels like his best so far, and finds him expanding his musical horizons without losing any ground along the way. This is a top-shelf exercise in soulful blues with plenty to say to the lovelorn and the satisfied alike. ~ Mark Deming