LUCINDA WILLIAMS - BLESSED
Williams say she is blessed, and she's certainly a might happier of late, not torn up about love now that she's settled into a solid relationship. Of course, some might long for the torment she could pour out in the old days, about three-day love affairs, and how they rip her up. The good news is that happier times don't dull her nasty sounds, or her ability to lay out the blues. Instead she simply sees it in other people. Plus, on the new disc, she tries to pass on some soothing words, telling all those down-and-out that they too are blessed.
If you want that Lucinda heartbreak, you can find it in a tune such as Born To Be Loved, where she couches the abused, the suffering, the forsaken and abandoned, telling them all they were born to be loved. In lesser hands, this is Dr. Phil advice, but when you here it from somebody who has felt that sorrow, it's empathy. In Seeing Black, she's speaking to someone carrying a lot of pain and hate, who can't see the good for all the bad in their eyes. This dramatic shift in William's life hasn't dulled her pencil one bit, and she's still studying the darkness in the soul and sadness in this sweet old world. It's just that her position is a better one.
The disc has a good mix of loud and soft, and Williams does both well, with her dirty southern funk always able to hit you in the guts. Nobody sings more true, with every word seemingly coming direct from her heart and soul. And when she moves to ballads, if you listen too close, you're in danger of an intense emotional experience.
Blessed is one of those few sets where you'll want to get the deluxe edition instead of the regular single-disc version. It's going to cost you a couple of extra bucks, but disc two is every track, in order, but this time just Lucinda and her acoustic, playing the songs at the kitchen table. With every song stripped to the bone, you are fully exposed to the white-hot intensity of her lyrics, and it's almost scary being that close to her. In some ways I like it better than the produced versions, but I'd hate to have to choose between one or the other.