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Lucinda Williams

West – 2007 (Lost Highway)

Reviewed by Dawn Pomento

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CDs by Lucinda Williams

Some sorrows are almost beyond words. They're primal. If Lucinda Williams just hummed through "Unsuffer Me," for example, the pain would still be tangible. Perhaps more than any of her other CDs, the music on "West" dances with the words - often just simple phrases repeated - and sometimes the music carries the message.

Perhaps some of the credit for the powerful layers of sound goes to co-producer Hal Willner, who is known for his experimental work and jazz influences. But only some of the credit because it's a given that Williams has total control of her work. She doesn't care if she isn't marketable. She won't care if some fans find this latest CD to be sometimes difficult listening. The death of her mother and the latest bad relationship informs every song. Loss - of loved ones, of a place in the world - laces through all 13 songs.

But Williams experiments with her songs of loss. Some completely break out from anything Williams has done before. "Come On" is a daring, rocking, completely female lament. "Words" serves as a manifesto: "You can't kill my words, they know no bounds. My words are strong, and they don't make me sick. They still remain my only companion. Loyal and true to the very end."

And finally, in the end, there is hope. Williams has relocated from Nashville to Los Angeles, and on the title track, Williams croons in a style reminiscent of 1950s ballads, "Who knows what the future holds, or where the cards will fall. But if you don't come out West and see, you'll never know at all." From deep sorrow to hope, Williams fearlessly shares a wrenching and cathartic journey.