On her first studio double album, Texas singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams lays down the law on 20 bluesy country-rock songs. Williams, who three years ago moved beyond the theme of unrequited love on Blessed, paints a rich emotional canvas on tracks that survey the struggles of the spirit. And she hasn’t abandoned the affairs of the heart: the solo-acoustic opener, “Compassion,” advises against rash judgments and contributes the album’s title: “You never know what wars are going on/Down there where the spirit meets the bone.” Meanwhile “Protection,” with confident rock swagger, is a snarling Texas-blues indictment of jilted love, dripping with defiance and twangy Telecasters. The album’s centerpiece is the Southern-Gothic opus “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” It’s a tough, Bible-thumping morality play that derives its title from the nightmarish novel by Ray Bradbury (who gleaned the phrase from Shakespeare’s Macbeth) and paints life as a dark carnival. Don’t be fooled by Williams’ penchant for pain and bewitching delivery, though—her worldweary, smoky voice (sometimes mixed so low it’s hard to discern the lyrics) caresses often moody reflections on life and belies the fact that at its heart Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone is about the resilience of the human spirit.