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Lucinda Williams

World Without Tears – 2003 (Lost Highway)

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

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CDs by Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams' world, if you listen to the thirteen self-penned cuts on this disc, is anything but a world without tears. "Did you love me forever just for those three days?" she sings longingly in the first chorus of "Those Three Days," this CD's best song, but her plaintiveness gains a touch of bitterness as she repeats the song's two verses, perhaps thinking better of letting her lover "crawl inside my brain."

Williams never sounds cooler than when she grooves on the upbeat "Righteously," and then her voice aches and quavers on the lovely "Minneapolis." The theme turns to child abuse on "Sweet Side," but that story turns out to have a happy ending, a rarity in Williams' exquisite, tear-stained world. More typical is the stark "American Dream," where drugs, sickness, war, and ghosts are the order of the day, instead of promotions, SUVs, and 2.5 kids.

The album was recorded mostly live with just Williams' three-person band and has a pleasingly raw, unpolished sound. One of the best albums you're likely to hear this year - just don't buy it to be uplifted.