Lucinda Williams :: West

lucinda.jpgI consider Lucinda Williams Car Wheels On A Gravel Road to be a true genre classic in every sense of the word. Its marriage of southern gothic lyrical imagery and atmosphere, paired with a good set of headphones, has the rare power to transport the listener to the deep rural south without stepping foot on a plane. This latest project, however, not so much.

Nearly a decade after Car Wheels release we find Lucinda on her eighth album, West, mourning both the loss of love and the death of her mother. “The songs deal with a chapter in my life and they definitely tell a story,” says Williams. “It’s probably been the most prolific time in my life as a writer. I’d been through so many changes — my mother’s death and a very tumultuous relationship that ended badly — so obviously there’s a lot of pain and struggling, but it ends with a look toward the future.”

Prolificacy does not necessarily equal quality, no matter the source material, and on West, unlike her past works, the album does not readily engage the listener. It feels weighted down by grief and pain. While the recording process may have been a therapeutic exercise for Williams, it is missing the yin and yang of Williams muse that has always balanced/bridged the light and the dark in her music. While much of Williams songwriting is clearly no stranger to loneliness and pain; West takes this running motif even further into a raw, and sometimes quite brutal place. Here’s to  hoping this one turns out to be a grower.

To read a contrarian view of West, check out Thom Jurek’s review at allmusic.

MP3: Lucinda Williams :: Unsuffer me

5 thoughts on “Lucinda Williams :: West

  1. I am hoping the new Lucinda will be a grower, as well. That said, ‘Wrap My Head Around That’ is an excruciatingly bad song.

  2. Bummer man. Thanks for giving it to us straight, at least. (I’m still gonna buy the album… she’s earned at least that.)

  3. I read the Allmusic review first (through their weekly new release emails) and was incredibly jazzed to even know she’d released a new album. I had no clue it was coming down the pipeline. The review had me incredibly excited to get out and buy it this afternoon, but I thought I’d cruise over here to see if you had a head’s up. Quite contrasting views of the same album – I still want to head out this afternoon and get it (since my excursion last night to get the new Jesse Sykes came up empty), but I do hope I end up disagreeing with you.

    “Unsuffer Me” is a pretty interesting song. I’m really liking the production, but admittedly it’s the only thing I’ve heard. World Without Tears took some beatings initially (especially for “Righteously” and “Atonement”) but was eventually recognized as a pretty solid album.

  4. I feel the same as you about the quality and genius of Car Wheels, and it is a deeply personal record for me as well. My first marriage was breaking up at the time I got it, and when I heard her sing,
    “I used to think you were strong
    I used to think you were proud
    I used to think nothing could go wrong”
    it hit me right in the gut and I burst into tears and cried and cried. The other image that stands out is the blood on the guitar strings in “Drunken Angel.” I’m still waiting for her to produce another album that does anything like that to me.

    @ Speed of Dark

  5. Word. I’ll be posting my review of West soon and I have to agree. It’s a C+/b- effort from Lu and though I havre to give props for her stretching I think it’s a miss here.

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