Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lucinda Williams: Blessed. A Review.

     What this album needs is a rainy day and some day-drinking.  Not heavy day-drinking, but a casual beer while you're making a sandwich type day-drinking.   Blessed is Lucinda Williams's most recent album, released on Tuesday.  I'm still not sure I've listened t it enough to give it the review it deserves, but I'll go forward with my first impressions.  Perhaps in a few months, once our relationship has moved past the  beginning stages and we are fully committed, I'll have another view.  But right now, I'm still in the we're-not-coming-out-of-our-room phase.  That phase where friends don't want to be around us because we just stare deeply into each other's eyes.  Yes, Blessed and I are currently staring into each other's eyes.
     I had pre-ordered this album so it would ready for me on the day of its release.  Tuesday's lunch time shenanigans actually yielded the positive result of getting the album a full five hours before I expected to.  I was trepidatious about ripping into the package as soon as I got back to the office like I wanted to, based on the sound the tearing would make and the subsequent squeals of excitement I wouldn't be able to control.  So it had to sit on my desk, taunting me, until those who are sensitive to such sounds had gone home.  I tore open the box and the plastic wrap and plopped in the CD drive on the computer.  Ahh, Lucinda Williams's voice filled my ear buds and all was right with the world.
     Buttercup is a great album opener; it sets the tone.  Lest you ever thought Lucinda was just going to lounge about while you treat her like crap, she tells you otherwise.  Sure, you might be kinda nice to look at, but she's better than you and your sweet-nothing-nicknames.  Good luck finding someone who will let you call her buttercup; you're a dick, and it's a degrading nickname anyway.
     With I Don't Know How You're Living she brings it down a notch.  It's slow and sweet.  One of the greatest aspects of Lucinda's writing is her specificity.  She won't simply say "I've done everything for you, and now we've lost touch."  She tells you what she's done for you, and then notes she doesn't know how you're living.  And it's a bummer, because she wants to know, and when you want her to know too, she'll listen, and she'll do all those things she's done again.
     I fell in love with Copenhagen the first time I heard it, even though I didn't really know what it was about yet.  "I'm fifty-seven but I could be seven years old 'cause I'll never be able to comprehend the expansiveness of what I've just learned."  I was wrapped around this song's finger.  Confusion and longing, and a straight shot to my soul.  This belongs on the soundtrack of my life, accompanying every walk down the street I ever take.
      With Born to be Loved, she is talking to all of us, I think.  We can get pretty down on ourselves, and feel like our lot in life is to just be in the bad place we're in.  Not so, says Lucinda.  It also serves as a reminder that nobody was born to be put upon, or beat up, or just treated badly.  The repetitive lyrics drive home the longing and desperation. 
      Seeing Black kicks it back up, and it's odd to say how much I love this song.  It's not her first song about suicide; it's not even the only suicide song on this album (see Copenhagen).  It's gritty and loud, and fun to sing along with.  I sense a bit of a fuck you for killing yourself in it along with bewilderment and a need to understand.
     Soldier's Song brings it back down again, and it seems like it's going to be obvious, but it's not at all.  It's quite three dimensional, and you vividly see the world being painted with each lyric.
     The titular Blessed is one of those great songs of hers that starts off slow, and then builds.  She reminds us how blessed we are, so we should be paying closer attention.
     Sweet Love is considered a departure, simply because it's a love song.  I disagree, because I think her catalogue is full of love songs.  But I digress.  This song is slow and sweet.  Musically, it's very stripped down- I think I hear a soft snare drum, guitar, and the gentle whine of an accordion.  Lyrically, of course, it's beautiful.  I feel like I'm floating in a gondola when I listen to this song.
     Ugly Truth is probably about a lot of different things.  Fame and fortune, the road there and the impossible road back perhaps, and about not being true to yourself.  You can't hide from the truth. 
     Convince Me is another roller coaster ride.  Indeed, the whole wide world is falling apart.  It starts off slow and smooth and by the end she's ripping guitar licks and smashing up the drums.  She's just begging you to convince her of one damn thing, but you can't really do it can you?
     Awakening.  You know what?  I don't even care exactly what this one is about.  There are so many elements to it; it's mournful and haunting, and as much as I love lyrics, I find myself surrounded by the music so much I realize I wasn't paying attention.  Whoops.
     Kiss Like Your Kiss is another love song.  The imagery is like something out of What Dream May Come.  How she can paint a fully composed picture with words is beyond me.  If you were ever in love like this, it must have been amazing.

With this album, she also released a collection of the same songs, recorded in her kitchen.  It is nothing short of amazing.   I am looking forward to a long and happy relationship with  Blessed.

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