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Lucinda Williams

Blessed – 2011 (Lost Highway)

Reviewed by Jason MacNeil

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CDs by Lucinda Williams

While Lucinda Williams toured recently with The Band's Levon Helm, she seems to have honed her style the last few albums so to nail her latest album. And the results are truly blessed.

With producer Don Was at the helm, Williams sounds in her element on the lovely, bluesy and above all soul-saturated Buttercup. Think of a bad coda to what her nugget Essence suggested and you should get the gist of it. From there Williams is content to be in a softer, sadder side on the gorgeous, tender Don't Know How You're Living.

Throughout it all, Williams keeps that bittersweet, broken-hearted tone for some dark, but deliciously solid efforts, especially Copenhagen with its alt.-country touches and harmony vocals. Meanwhile she reaches down for a hair-raising performance on To Be Loved, a dusty, blues-based and extremely deliberate jewel she seems she was born to sing. The same feel also comes during the haunting Soldiers Song as Williams strums with a dose of pedal steel in the background, a song that perhaps only Springsteen covering could match for its depth.

The lone bright spot as far as up-tempo material offered has to be Seeing Black, which has just enough bite and electric guitar solos to make it shine. And fortunately they allow those solos to stick around, not fade out and go to waste. However some might feel Williams is treading the same downbeat musical road on the crawling Sweet Love and Awakening, and they would be right.

On the whole - and to quote a track - there is an ugly truth in this album, but Williams makes such truth sinfully easy on the ears.