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Audio CD, June 5, 2001
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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Lonely Girls (Album Version) 4:02$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Steal Your Love (Album Version) 3:15$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. I Envy The Wind (Album Version) 3:13$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Blue (Album Version) 3:53$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Out Of Touch (Album Version) 5:29$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Are You Down (Album Version) 5:26$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Essence (Album Version) 5:51$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Reason To Cry (Album Version) 3:43$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Get Right With God (Album Version) 4:17$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Bus To Baton Rouge (Album Version (New Mastering)) 5:52$1.29  Buy MP3 
listen11. Broken Butterflies (Album Version) 5:40$0.99  Buy MP3 

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It’s not all that hard to find an artist who’s capable of offering a guided tour of life’s dark clouds – nor is it rare to come into contact with one who can hone in on the silver lining. But the ability to do both with equal grace, well, that’s an altogether rarer gift – and it’s one that Lucinda Williams displays ... Read more in Amazon's Lucinda Williams Store

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Frequently Bought Together

Essence + World Without Tears + Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
Price for all three: $18.97

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 5, 2001)
  • Original Release Date: June 5, 2001
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Lost Highway
  • ASIN: B00005B8GS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (194 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,555 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Few artists in recent memory have been able to wring more from less than Lucinda Williams. The hauntingly beautiful, wistful, and often breathtaking Essence is another case in point of how far raw emotion and honesty can carry an artist. Williams's singing is at its paralyzing best throughout 11 bare originals, an incredibly affecting vocal performance by a woman who was not blessed with exceptional tone, range, or pitch. Throughout, her voice is incredibly naked, vulnerable, and wrought with feeling. "Blue" and "Broken Butterflies" are gorgeous anti-lullabies whose simple melodies belie their poignant ruminations. The title track is a sultry and susceptible sex-as-drug come-on while "Reason to Cry" has all the hallmarks of a classic country lament. The only departure from the subdued mood is "Get Right with God," a rousing gospel tune that practically begs for salvation through punishment and is the rare acknowledgement of a world beyond Williams's own fears and desires. More meditative than the personal narratives found on Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Essence is ultimately more powerful. Williams wallows in sorrow and weakness, and the result is moving and disarming. --Marc Greilsamer

Customer Reviews

One does not just listen to this CD, is actually felt.
A first listen seemed to find a somber if not despairing expression of raw emotions sung beautifully in her unique voice.
john s. strickland
Lucinda Williams' ESSENCE is the single best album I've ever heard by a woman.
Up The Stairs

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Sally on May 3, 2006
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This mournful, erotic album is my favorite of Lucinda Willams work. I'm not usually a fan of female singers who play guitar, but this lady is a real musician, a poet and an emotional magician. She writes her own music and lyrics - plays on her heartstrings, sings from her soul. Her rough but vulnerable, husky, cowgirl voice tells you all you need to know about late nights in bars, too much booze, cigarettes, and a long time looking - and longing - for that one guy.

Her songs are deceptively simple. Their power comes from her images, her delivery and the way the music supports the lyrics. "Lonely Girls," the first cut, sets the stage for the rest. The brisk, light melody, juxtaposed against her sorrowful wail, pushes the sadness deeper. Backup for the predatory "I'm Gonna Steal Your Love," beats like an excited heart. She drags out the words, savoring every anticipated pleasure. The slow, rocking instrumental to "I Envy the Wind," and her voice, almost breaking with sorrow as she tenderly, and with exquisite sensuality, describes the way the elements are free to touch the one she longs for, is painful to hear. The words to "Blue" create the most delicate and beautiful images of the color blue - that particular deep, purple blue that suddenly surprises the eyes and the heart in an ordinary moment. But the lodestone at the center of this amazing album is the pulsing, and obsessive "Essence," with a beat that drives her passionate lyrics of carnal cravings to a boiling point.

In between these heated cuts are tender, sad songs of lost loves. The last cut, " Broken Butterflies," is a personal message to a lover whose anger destroys beauty and love. All this is the stuff of lonely girls.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By "rachel875" on June 5, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Yes, I know...everyone went insane over Lucinda's last recording, the stellar "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road"-the narratives about dead ex-lovers and dead friends, and I suppose everyone was waiting for more of the same. But let's face it-she's only got a certain number of friends or lovers who have met tragic ends. She's explored the ground of being a Child in the backseat/About 4 or 5 years/Lookin' out the window/A little bit of dirt mixed with tears This record deals with feelings that everyone has felt at one time or another: longing (Bus to Baton Rouge, I Envy the Wind) lust(Essence, Steal Your Love), loneliness (Lonely Girls) other topics ranging from religious ecstacy to weariness over dealing with someone who can't let go of the past. "Essence" may be a departure from Lucinda's last record, but its a departure that is as rich and beautiful as anything on her previous records. The instrumentation is flawless, the writing is intense and intensely personal, and her voice tells you she's lived every song. This record needs to be in your collection.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Ray M. Sharp on July 2, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Well, judging by the reviews posted here, all the one-timers who bought and appreciated Car Wheels just don't get it with Lucinda. This is her best work if you are a fan, and if you're not, don't waste your cash and go back to mainstream country where you belong. Yes, story-telling journeys through the bayous and pool halls of the South are fertile territory for great songs, and the up-tempo songs like Passionate Kisses and 6 Blocks Away were fun, but the purest, most honest and ultimately best artistic works come straight from the heart, and Essence has that kind of emotional intensity at its rawest. I don't know if this makes sense to the casual fan, but if you really love Lucinda's earlier works, you owe it to yourself to listen to this at least 10 times before you dismiss it. It's her best work, and bravest, and that says a lot. She really is our unique songwriting treasure.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. Thomas on August 14, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This is quite possibly Lucinda Williams finest recorded work to date. I have no option but to award five well deserved stars. The songs and production are certainly not as immediately impressive as Car Wheels or World Without Tears. However, what we have is a superbly crafted and subtly understated work that rewards repeated listening through masterful and poetic use of lyrics, heatbreaking vocal expression, and near-perfect arrangements. It is wonderfully successful on all levels. There are no weak tracks, and I invariably listen to all 11 without skipping. The title track is a favourite; one of the sexiest things I've ever heard.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Keith Bergendorff on November 9, 2001
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I really liked Sweet Old World and loved Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, but I was totally unprepared for this CD which literally just ripped my heart completely out. From these reviews I guess some Lucinda fans see the simple lyrics and spare arrangements as dull or lazy, to me they're clearly deliberate and integral to the raw yet poetic tone of the entire recording, which often ventures beyond her country/folk roots to a more elemental mode of musical expression. While very simple, when taken in context with the mood and delivery (what delivery!) of each song, these stripped-down lyrics have incredible strength by virtue of their powerful and emotionally charged imagery. I found myself ready to cry halfway through my first listen to "Lonely Girls" and was pretty much a helpless wreck through the remainder of the CD. It's still incredibly powerful about two dozen listenings later. Some tracks are of course stronger than others (and the live loop effects do get a little tiresome), but on the whole this is the most intimate, unaffected, sensual and heartbreaking music I've heard in a very long time. It's been haunting me day and night since I first heard it.
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