Armed with as blistering a fever to tell as ever, Lucinda Williams has shown up just in time to make 2011 a little more interesting. Honest portrayals of flawed characters have always been a strong suit of Williams. It's a skill that won her her first Grammy as a performer for the 1998 breakthrough album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. Her new record Blessed showcases these particular songwriting strengths in very powerful ways. It features bold and confident production courtesy of Don Was (Brian Wilson, Kris Kristofferson, Iggy Pop), and through this Williams is given ample room for her words to stretch way out and settle nicely into their respective homes.
Blessed opens with the searing kiss-off "Buttercup," and as we journey to the end we're introduced to the potentially lost souls that inhabit songs like "Ugly Truth," and "Convince Me." Perhaps the most heartbreaking though is a tribute to a true lost soul entitled "Seeing Black." It's a series of questions posed to Williams’ friend, and great music talent in his own right, Vic Chesnutt who took his own life on Christmas Day 2009. The song offers equal doses of anger and acceptance to the fallen friend. Past collaborator Elvis Costello jumps into the fold of this already harrowing song to provide a blazing thicket of guitar for the often harsh words to slash against. Then you have the album’s title tack which is just as thought-provoking, but gentler in its message of the masked good that lies all around. "Sweet Love" closes the record on the most tender note imaginable. The song is as touching as the title suggests, and a perfect showcase of how trouble somehow manages to fade easily in the presence of real love.
Blessed is a celebration of love over all. Love for strangers, love for friends. In addition to the many contributions Mr. Costello has made to this record, power pop balladeer Matthew Sweet has returned to lend his voice to several tracks. It seems that the album's title must perfectly encapsulate Lucinda Williams' feelings about her life at the moment, and it's from that comfortable perch that she so effectively explores themes both comfortable and not. There is an undeniable sense of ease present within each of these twelve songs that gives the listener an idea of a past long since left behind, and a future longing to be explored.
-- Marion Hodges, KCRW Music Host
Blessed will be available to stream on demand from February 21 through March 22, 2011. The album will be released on Tuesday, March 1, 2011.
Artist website: www.lucindawilliams.com
2. I Don't Know How You're Livin'
4. Born To Be Loved
5. Seeing Black
6. Soldier's Song
8. Sweet Love
9. Ugly Truth
10. Convince Me
12. Kiss Like Your Kiss