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CD of the Week: Lucinda Williams – “West”

June 13, 2007

Lucinda Williams - WestI’ve been a Lucinda Williams fan for a few years now, so it’s no surprise that I would pick this as a CD of the week sooner or later. Truth is, though, I just got around to getting this one. It was worth the wait.

Let me give you some background though. My brother is a huge Tori Amos fan, and I’ve always liked what I’ve heard from Tori but I’ve never bought a CD. And I think Lucinda is the reason. While I’ve always been a fan of confessional-style songwriting – you know, where you feel like you know the artist a little better after hearing the album. But Lucinda Williams and Tori Amos take that to a whole different level. After hearing their work, you feel like you might have broken into their houses, snooped around, and read their diaries. There are moments on Essence, World Without Tears and West where the confessions are so deep that it feels a little creepy.

It takes real guts to write songs like that. I mean real guts; not gutsy posturing, no “look at how bad I am” or “who’s your daddy/momma” silliness. Actual courage. The level of vulnerability involved in such deep confession is downright scary. It can be downright draining at times to listen to that kind of writing. And in my life, I think I only have room for one such songwriter. Sorry, Tori; I fell for Lucinda first.

And it’s all delivered musically with Lucinda’s sultry blend of rock, country, blues, folk, and soul. She draws no distinctions between musical types, and doesn’t even fit neatly into the box we call “Americana.” Doug Pettibone delivers mightily on guitar, serving as a second voice in the same way that Mike Campbell’s leads serve Tom Petty’s work. Pettibone is all substance and very little flash, always giving what is perfect for the song.

Just a caveat: Lucinda’s songwriting is often a bit *ahem* adult, and not for little ears. She sings about adult subject matter, and isn’t afraid of dropping an f-bomb here and there. Discretion is advised.

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