Lucinda Williams - Live @ the Fillmore
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Live @ the Fillmore (Lost Highway, 2005)

Lucinda Williams

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

After taking six years to release her 1998 album, "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road," Lucinda Williams has become a surprisingly regular recording artist, with two more studio albums and this live double-disc set since then. The focus here is her last album, "World Without Tears," a beautiful, somber recording.

Throughout this set from San Francisco, Williams' voice moves from calm and plaintive to angry - even downright enraged. The set starts off with "Ventura," a gorgeous, mournful song, full of steel guitar and raw, throbbing isolation. The energy steps up with the electric guitar-driven "Out of Touch," where Williams laments her detachment from her fellow human. On the upbeat funky "Sweet Side, " the singer has finally managed to find someone, but he's damaged goods. Williams is at her angry best on "Change the Locks," snarling, "I changed the kind of caaaaaaar I drive."

The second disc begins with "I Lost It," a bright, bouncy tune, in which Williams is looking for something - or someone - lost. "Pineola" perfectly captures the feeling of detachment accompanied by sudden death - it sounds like the singer's just floating above it all when Williams sings, "I think I must've picked up a handful of dust and let it fall over his grave." On the funky "Joy," Williams switches over to fury as she growls, "You took my joooooyyyy; I want it back." Then she's suddenly sultry on "Essence" when she coos, "Baby, sweet baby, I wanna feel your breath," backed only by a lightly tapping cymbal.

Williams is backed by a fantastic live band, but the focus here is always on the songs of the woman front and center, and her raw, affecting voice. Lucinda Williams is a treasure, and this set represents a wonderful look back at some of the absolute best music recorded over the last few years.

CDs by Lucinda Williams

Good Souls Better Angels, 2020 The Ghosts of Highway 20, 2016 Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone, 2014 Lucinda Williams (25th Anniversary release), 2014 Blessed, 2011 LU in '08, 2008 Little Honey, 2008 West, 2007 Car Wheels on a Gravel Road deluxe edition, 2006 Live @ the Fillmore, 2005

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