Lucinda Williams shows in concert why she's one of America's best songwriters
Orpheum, Boston, Dec. 4, 2001
By Jeffrey B. Remz
BOSTON - Lucinda Williams was introduced by a local DJ quoting Time Magazine as saying she was the premier songwriter in America. In concert, Williams proved that she can make the songs jump off the silver platter as well.
Williams was near the end of her tour folowing the June release of "Essence," which was no son of "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" either musically or in its commercial success.
The songs on "Essence" were not as melodic as those on "Car Wheels." As a result, the disc takes a few listens to stick in the brain.
But pulling it off in concert before about 2,000 folks is a different story. Williams sings extremely well. Sometimes with a bit of a drawl and twang, but almost always with the requisite emotion.
And that is a must ingredient considering that many of her songs are about difficult relationships or people with their own share of problems (one of the evening's highlights was "Drunken Angel," about the late Blaze Foley, a singer from Texas). No problem for Williams though, who has endured a difficult reliationship or two herself.
Williams focused during her 110-minute show, includng two encores, on her last two albums. Musically, she mixed it up between a country, rootsy sound and bluesy numbers. She seemed to veer more towards a swampy, bluesy sound thn she has in the past. Willaims also could rock, something she left no doubt about on a meaty version of "Changed the Locks."
As usual, Williams was backed by a stellar band. West Coast drummer Don Heffington turned in a fine job in keeping the beat going.
About the only downer came during the first encore. The band tackled a new song and apparently did not do it right because Willliams eventually waved them off and seemed a bit perturbed for the remainder of the show.
Otherwise, this was a superior show to her gig in Boston in June just five days after the release of "Essence." Maybe it was the time on the road whipping singer and band into shape.
After all, it takes more than being a solid songwriter to pull it off live.