Lucinda Williams

West
(Lost Highway)

Well, Lucinda Williams' first release in four years won't be making many people's lists of Least Depressing Albums of 2007. Someone took her joy again. And this time, there's no sign that joy is coming back, as Williams struggles through the heartache of her mother's death while dealing with the fallout of an ugly breakup. You can feel the pain informing every nuance of her singing here. And she's actually singing with nuance again, abandoning the harsh cartoonish drawl that's been marring her vocal performances of late in favor of a more restrained approach that only underscores the raw emotion of her lyrics. Pain is coursing through her every vein in the harrowing "Mama You Sweet," while "Fancy Funeral" scoffs at the high cost of dying, pointing out that "no amount of riches can bring back what you've lost." As for the breakup songs, they range from "Learning How To Live" — as in "without you" — where she's willing to admit "For you, I might've even changed my name" — to the far more obvious "Come On," where Williams lashes out with all the bitterness he's made her feel, attacking his ability to make her come without the charm or humor Lily Allen brought to that same subject.
 
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