The most powerful introduction to Lucinda Williams' new record, West, comes not from the languid, repetitive opener "Are You Alright?" but from the liner-note inscription by her poet father, Miller Williams: "You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone." As one of the past decade's most esteemed songwriters, Lucinda has always found such ulterior junctures, whether we catch a glimpse of them through her kitchen window while "Loretta's singin' on the radio" or in her bedroom as she lies on her back to "moan at the ceiling." But no matter how far off the reservation Lucinda may stray on her latest album, her personnel are more tightly focused and impeccable than ever guitarist Doug Pettibone, violinist and string arranger Jenny Scheinman, and especially Rob Burger, with his perceptive touch on organ. When those elements come together as on "Where Is My Love," "Rescue," and the gently swaying title track the spirit hits the bone squarely, in a place that doesn't seem all too distant from where we wish Lucinda Williams would always be.
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