Thursday, March 10, 2011


Song: Buttercup
Artist: Lucinda Williams
Album: Blessed

After her highly acclaimed third and self-titled album from 1988, and its follow-up, 1992's 'Sweet Old World,' it famously took Lucinda Williams six full years to perfect what became her masterwork, 1998's 'Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.'  That album is start to finish amazing, and since then, she's only let three years come between each new album.  I personally loved the quiet 'Essence' from 2001, and was into about 90% of '03's 'World Without Tears,' (the country rapping lost me.)  But her most recent albums 'West' and 'Little Honey' didn't grab me the way her music used to.  On her 10th album 'Blessed,' it seems that the old strong-songwriting Lucinda is back.

'Blessed' was produced by Don Was (of Was Not Was, but also famous producer of Bonnie Raitt's 'Nick of Time') and right from the start with crackling single "Buttercup" you realize that there is a re-charge in Lucinda, and it's evident throughout.

When I love an artist, and consider albums of theirs the best I've ever heard, it's tough hearing one that I don't connect with initially... I try giving it a second, third, or tenth chance and yet... don't feel it.  Is it me?  That's been the case with the last couple R.E.M. albums (though their new one is getting a LOT of play lately) and the same with Lucinda.  But like R.E.M.'s 'Collapse into Now' 'Blessed' grabbed me immediately.  Either the straight rock groove of "Buttercup" and "Seeing Black," or the beautiful ballads "I Don't Know How You're Livin'" or "Born to be Loved" which show Lucinda at her best... using her gravely voice and penchant for the perfect line... the emotion just seeps through.  This is strong, assured songwriting at its finest.

This album honestly brings me back to the 'Car Wheels'/'Essence' hay day of her songwriting, where a song like "Copenhagen" seems almost tossed-off in it's brilliance, where the good moments of her recent work felt forced.  I could have used a couple more rockers... but, it's not what 'Blessed' is.  And I'm reminded that 'Essence' is still one of my favorite albums of hers... and her most quiet.

The songs on 'Blessed' are still unfolding for me.  And it's been good so far.




Seeing Black

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