Finding Her Voice
On her latest album, Lucinda Williams chronicles 55 years' worth of love, loss and living in 13 rich songs.
Williams, long critically adored, has always been something of a loose cannon, and here her trademark desperate twang recklessly taps into a brutally heartfelt mix of blues, folk, honky-tonk and rock that makes for her best album since 1998's "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road."
The album opens with "Real Love," a scorching toe-tapper that sets the mood for the rest of the disc. This is music that's searing, honest and even, at times, emotionally awkward.
"If Wishes Were Horses" is a sweet, wistful plea to an old lover ("Come on and give me another chance"), while "Plan To Marry" is a mournful elegy to finding love within humanity's decay and ruin.
It's not all maudlin, however. Williams is joined by Elvis Costello on the rollicking, bawdy "Jailhouse Tears," and her growling, bluesy cover of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top" is invigorating, fearless and fun.
"You bend over backwards to make a statement," Williams sings on "Little Rock Star."
"Hang from the rafters and lick the pavement, split your lip and barely catch your breath."
Again, at long last, Williams has not only caught her breath but found her voice, as well.