West

This is Louisiana-born alt-country heroine Lucinda Williams’ first album since 2003, and its songs emerged during the period when her mother passed on and she moved from one relationship into another one.

This is Louisiana-born alt-country heroine Lucinda Williams’ first album since 2003, and its songs emerged during the period when her mother passed on and she moved from one relationship into another one. Not surprising then, that the bleak soundscapes evoke Wrecking Ball-era Emmylou Harris while never descending into maudlin self-pity.

Williams delivers her songs with a hint of wistfulness that doesn’t cloud the music’s intent, a philosophy of resignation perhaps best illustrated in ‘Words’, where she explains the solace she gets from her craft: “You can’t kill my words, they know no bounds”. ‘Come On’ is a triumphal blend of spite and Springsteen grit, as Williams angrily tells a former lover to fuck off, an ironic choice of phrasing given that his major felony seems to have been a lack of performance in the sack. On ‘Unsuffer Me’ she pleads for love to relieve her despair, and ‘Learning How To Live’ is a disturbing country-rock stroll about bittersweet heartache. ‘Are You Alright’ is a compassionate epistle to an ex, although Williams could equally be singing to her bereft self.

West works because it juxtaposes a sense of vulnerability with a desire not to stay down for long, and is tinged with a sense of realism not always present in her rivals. It’s also one of the most provocative albums about break-up since Bob spilled blood all over the tracks.

 

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