Lucinda Williams – Blessed

2011-05-20 08:17
Lucinda Williams built her reputation in the 1990s with a series of stunning albums that detailed a turbulent life, filled with reckless men and a rambling search for meaning in the heart of modern America.

Now happily married and in her 50s, Williams has sometimes struggled to bring the same passion and clarity to a life more settled. With 2008's uneven Little Honey, she sang of personal fulfilment in terms both spiritual and sexual, while ramping up the blues-rock component of her ragged, roots-based sound.

The title of her new album, Blessed, may suggest more songs of bliss. However, Williams now looks outside her own heart and experiences - and proves she can be just as moving when singing about others instead of herself.

She keeps the music rough yet tightly arranged, juxtaposing raw guitar rockers with gentle acoustic tidings, similar to Neil Young's eclectic Americana style. Williams still focuses on characters living outside of society, as in the heartbreaking "I Don't Know How You're Livin'", but now it's with a maternal concern rather than as a fellow traveller.

What Blessed brings back is the charitable grace with which Williams sees the world - an openhearted yet unflinching honesty that continues to make her music a sweet blessing in a tough world.

A 90s diva gets back to solid form.

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