I'm happy for Lucinda Williams, the perennially bummed country-soul siren who is engaged to her manager, record executive Tom Overby. But I'm happier for her music and her fans. That's because Williams, as divine as she can be when turning sorrow into song, had lately grown depressingly one-note in her discontent.
Not so here. Little Honey, her ninth studio album, has its share of longing. "If wishes were horses," she sings, "I'd have a ranch." But it's her most rocked-out set to date, and also her happiest. (Happier even than 1980's Happy Woman Blues.) And while contentedness is quite often the bane of a tortured creator's existence, it does Williams a world of good. It spurs her to vary the album's mood and tempo, and loosen up in heretofore unheard ways, on the likes of "Jailhouse Tears," a delicious country love-hate duet with Elvis Costello, as well as the raunchy title cut, and a cranked-up cover of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)."