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Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
|1. Are You Alright?|
|2. Mama You Sweet|
|3. Learning How To Live|
|4. Fancy Funeral|
|5. Unsuffer Me|
|6. Everything Has Changed|
|7. Come On|
|8. Where Is My Love?|
|10. What If|
|11. Wrap My Head Around That|
With West, a disc that may well be Lucinda Williams' most personal work to date, the singer-songwriter channels both her emotion and restive creative energy into a startling set of songs that touch on both darkness and redemption. At turns strikingly spare and compellingly muscular, the album's 13 cuts attest to her willingness to stretch as a musician - and to put herself on the line as a chronicler of life. 'The songs deal with a chapter in my life there's a lot of pain and struggling, but it ends with a look towards the future.' Lucinda Williams.
Though the arrangements stray from Lucinda Williams's motherlode blend of blues, country, and folk, West may well be her best album. It is easily her most musically adventurous, and often her most lyrically inspired. Williams's singing has never sounded better, from the aching tenderness of "Where Is My Love?" to the ravaged catharsis of "Unsuffer Me." New York producer Hal Willner, who has worked with artists such as Marianne Faithful and Lou Reed, enlists the support of eclectic progressives like guitarist Bill Frisell, keyboardist Bob Burger, and violinist Jenny Scheinman, along with harmonies from the Jayhawks' Gary Louris, to weave a subtly rich sonic tapestry. Much of the material was inspired by the death of Williams's beloved mother ("Mama You Sweet," "Fancy Funeral") and the bitter breakup of a relationship (the jagged-edged emasculation of "Come On," the repetitive incantation of "Wrap My Head Around That"), though "Are You Alright?," "Learning How to Live," and "Everything Has Changed" could reflect the aftermath of both. Other highlights include "Rescue," with a languid subtlety and ambient pulse reminiscent of Beth Orton, and the dreamy, wistful title track. Where Williams's music has long cut close to the bone, the best of West slices right through it. --Don McLeese
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Top Customer Reviews
Not that she is interested in staying within some country comfort zone, "Wrap My Head Around That" straying into uncharted territory.
It is not the first time she has slowed a lyric to spoken level, but this is a rhythmic bona fide country rap epic, a compelling narrative over nine minutes long, punctuated by snarling guitar chops and solos.
"Words" is another wise old tale written on that cracked parchment of a voice, wafting over an intoxicating melody.
She quotes her father, literature and poetry professor Miller Williams on West's sleeve notes: "You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone", and these songs are a product of an internal turmoil caused by her mother's death and an intense relationship that spectacularly crashed and burned.
Put brutally selfishly, Lucinda's loss is our gain, gut-wrenching songs like "Unsuffer Me" burn with the agony and ecstasy of "Essence", and "Fancy Funeral" has the rare power to reduce grown men and women to tears.
She has assembled a great band including Bill Frisell, Jim Keltner and her long-time guitarist, the superb Doug Petibone, who do ample justice to this scintillating set of songs.
I like it. You will be moved, to say the least.
The album's 13 songs together form a largely down-tempo disc, but "West" doesn't only find Williams in a somber mood.
"Mama You Sweet" is upbeat and "Come On" is a nasty, almost raunchy kiss-off, musically akin to "Atonement" from her last album, 2003's "World Without Tears".
She injects doses of hope and light in tracks like "What If", in which she imagines a world where the president wears pink and a prostitute is a queen.
"I get tired of people looking at my songs and feeling that they're all sad and dark. There's more to them than that. Some people might read Flannery O'Connor and see that as simply dark - and it is dark and disturbing - but there's a philosophical aspect, even a comical aspect to it as well. I think that's all there on this album. It's a full circle, like I've come through a metamorphosis", she says...
"West" is Williams's finest hour.
There are uncomfortable truths here, carried on easy-going melodies. "Fancy Funeral" is a wry look at death's priorities that flows as easily as drink.
Williams lost her mother and an errant lover as these songs were being written. These two truncated relationships fill "West" with exquisitely turned suffering; Williams and band provides the expert musical succour. Hal Wilner is the producer who organised this record's quietly unconventional sounds as Williams wanted them.
Equally raw and sensual is the unravelling blues of "Unsuffer Me", where Williams's ravaged voice begs: "Undo my logic/ Undo my fear" with an intensity that verges on the erotic.Read more ›
This album is probably her most confessional yet. The album deals heavily with love. But despite being released during Valentine's Day week, it is a very dark album. It deals with topics such as having anger at a lover, grief, and love that is lost. But it's not all bleak, as the album does also have tracks that deal with embracing the chance to change things. Williams is once again very open and honest with her emotions, and her frankness is in stark contrast to most of the cookie cutter music that gets released.
The music is also very good, and fits her vocals and tone perfectly. Some of the highlights include "Come On", "Learning how to Live", and "Wrap My Head Around That".
For anyone that likes to hear real emotion in their music, they certainly can't go wrong with this album.
The lyrics, combined with the music, make for an album that, while sad and dark at times, also shows that there are always rays of hope no matter how bleak things may seem.
Like flowers blooming through cracked city concrete, Lucinda Williams's music is a paradox: how can her songs, almost exclusively about death, loneliness and failure, be so beautiful and uplifting?
Nine albums in, Lucinda Williams has reached something approaching perfection.
Her voice traverses country smoothness to Marlboro-ravaged drawl with elegant ease while Bill Frissell's guitar twangs and howls and shimmers with otherworldly wonder. As befits the intimate nature of the lyrics, the arrangements get sparser as the album progresses - the barnstorming Are You Alright?Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
While Car Wheels had some diversity to it as well, it was a pretty cohesive sounding record, which is probably why it sold so well. Great songs with consistent sound and feel to them... The cold starkness of her followup ("Essence" from 2001) caught many offguard and had some misfires, but 2003's "World Without Tears" got her back on track and was a more successful merger of more diverse musical styles than she'd had on a single album before.
West is very much in that vein with songs that incorporate rock, blues, country and more and lyrics that range from longing ("Are You Alright?" "Where Is My Love?" and "Everything Has Changed") to life lessons ("Learning How To Live," "Rescue") to jabs at former lovers ("Come On" and "Wrap My Head Around That").
Lucinda's own take on the record is that "the songs deal with a chapter in my life and they definitely tell a story. 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 towards the future."
Because this album is so diverse, there are bound to be songs that most will like more than others, but all in all, this is pure Lucinda and has to be considered one of her better releases. Unlike past releases though, Lucinda worked with an outside producer and actually turned over a lot of control as to how the songs should sound. And while there are some interesting effects you won't have heard on past Lucinda records that add a certain freshness to some tracks (such as "Wrap My Head Around That"), the demo versions of some of the other songs reveal that at least a couple of these songs sounded better in demo form. One example of this would be the "Where Is My Love?" demo, which has a slower, more longing, jazz-blues feel to it than the finished version, which is more of a straight blues number that fails to accentuate the vocal as well as the demo version (note: 2 demo versions come on this Japanese import; others are available in various places as bonus discs, iTunes only tracks or promo-only cd's; I have them all and highly recommended them as they are definitely not the usual "half-finished" garbage version of songs you tend to hear on box sets, etc. These demos could easily have been on the album!).
Ultimately, if you're a Lucinda fan and have enjoyed past works, this one won't disappoint. If you're new to Lucinda and thinking of checking out what she's about, this is as solid a place to start as any, although the mega-seller "Car Wheels" seems to be the fans' #1 choice.
Put it on, play it, and revel in what is Lucinda Williams. That's the best advice I can give you. You get her full range of emotions and wonderful images in her writing as well as her personal revelations about herself.
I can't wait until the next album comes out with "It's in the Knowing" and the beauty of love that in a way that only Lucinda can express.
While there is the occasional musical high spot, William's strength lies in her writing. I kept expecting/wanting Mark Knopfler and Emmy Lou to break in. They didn't.
In balance I like this album. Williams is an interesting song writer and an even better poet. And, I can't help but love someone who calls her former boy friend a frog and gets me points at home.
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