Tuesday, March 29, 2011


A good friend of mine, who is a big Lucinda Williams fan, was worried about her new album, Blessed. "She writes so well about broken relationships," my friend said.  Now that's she's (hopefully) happily married, will she be as good as she was?

I pointed out that "Passionate Kisses" is one of her classic songs, and it seems to deal with being in a relationship that has lasted a while.  Car Wheels On A Gravel Road, her greatest album (and the one against all of her others will always be measured, at least in my mind) has a lot more than just breakup/heartbreak songs. I'm always optimistic anyway.

But it was like Lucinda heard my friend, because the opening track/first single, "Buttercup," is a kiss off to an ex-. But Lu is in a different place right now, and it takes courage to try and write about being happy. I think that's where she got the album title, Blessed. I love the artwork int he album - there's a series of people, who look like they are of varying economic circumstances, holding a sign that says "blessed." (You can see video testimonials by regular people who talk about what it means to be "blessed" at Lucinda's YouTube page.)

Like most of Lucinda's recent albums, there's definitely some weepers, but also some flat out rockers.  I totally dig "Seeing Black" (fair enough, another breakup song... by the way, both this song and "Buttercup" feature Elvis Costello on electric guitar). The soul of the album lies with the title track, where Lucinda sees the beauty in everyday life. I don't think she could have written this one 15 years ago. It comes right after "Soldier's Song," which compares a soldier's day with that of his wife and child back home.

Another great song is "Kiss Like Your Kiss," which Lu originally recorded with Elvis Costello for True Blood. Here, it is a solo version.

Don Was produced this album, and I think he did a great job. He's done some cool Outlaw Country type albums over the years, working with Willie Nelson and Elizabeth Cook, and he really stays out of the way here and lets Lu make another really solid album. Well done!

Interesting to see that for the second album in a row, Matthew Sweet sings backing vocals.  Lu, bring him out on the road!

As I mentioned, all of Lucinda's albums (at least to me) will be compared to Car Wheels. I don't think that Blessed is as good as that album, but it is really good and I'd be psyched to hear most of these songs in concert.

P.S. I'll also mention that the "deluxe" version of this album is worth getting: it features a second disc with Lucinda doing solo acoustic versions of all the songs, recorded live at her kitchen table!

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