63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bluesy mix with a note of hope and redemption.
It may only be March but I have to say that this is going to be one of my records of the year.
Lucinda Williams has always been a peerless songwriter.She writes about lust, love, and losslike nobody else, and on this album, co-produced with Hal Wilner, she takes on such subjects as her mother's death, the state of the world, and yet another tumultuous...
Published on March 2, 2007 by joemacktheknife
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars West by Lucinda Williams
If you are not a lyric fan or a Lucinda Williams fan, this may not be for you.
It is a strange record. Depressing at first then almost liberating.
The more you listen, the more you get a grasp on what's going on.
It gets under your skin. Not my favorite but a challenge!
Just want run of the mill stuff. Don't buy this...
Published on March 12, 2007 by Anthony G. Crombie
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63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bluesy mix with a note of hope and redemption.,
This review is from: West (Audio CD)It may only be March but I have to say that this is going to be one of my records of the year.
Lucinda Williams has always been a peerless songwriter.She writes about lust, love, and losslike nobody else, and on this album, co-produced with Hal Wilner, she takes on such subjects as her mother's death, the state of the world, and yet another tumultuous relationship which ended badly. It's her usual tough stuff, but this time, Lucinda sneaks in a note of hope and even redemption in the very bluesy mix.
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.
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.
Subtle and heroically blunt by turns, "West" is a meditation on abandonment and recovery, abandon and regret that deserves to be hauled out of the Americana ghetto and celebrated everywhere wounded hearts beat.
This collection sees her at her best with emotion, raw power and intoxicating, intense tunes which should appeal to much more than country and folk fans.
Four years on from "World Without Tear"s comes this studio album from Lucinda Williams, her eighth in a 37-year career - she doesn't rush.
OK, the predominant theme is pain, and no one does pain as eloquently as Lucinda - or as multifariously.
Yet "West" is all musical mood swings: from stoic, heartbreak country to fierce revenge rock, retro pop to folk, poetry to rap, mellow California to dark LA rock.
What makes Lucinda Williams such an important country artist, besides the excellent songwriting and that sultry, scarred southern voice, is her skill at stretching the genre's boundaries while mining its essence.
Which, often as not, is pain.
132 of 155 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything Has Changed,
This review is from: West (Audio CD)On August 10, 2005 Lucinda Williams played at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh. It was the last live concert that my wife and I saw together. Lucinda was touring in support of "Live @ the Fillmore" & said she was writing songs for a new record. As I recall, she played a new song she said she'd recently written, "Everything Has Changed." I preordered Lucinda's "West" set while my wife was still here. Today marks the fourth week since breast cancer ripped a giant unfillable hole in my universe. Lucinda lost her mother; and so themes of adjustment to loss not only resonate with me, they punctuate every breath I take. I spin the CD & Lucinda's gentle aching voice comes on, "Are you alight?" When people ask me that, I want to say, "He*l no!" But when she sings, "All of a sudden you went away; I hope you come back around someday; I haven't seen you in a real long time; Could you give me some kind of sign? Are you alright? ...Cause I've been feeling a little scared," it sounds like she's tapped into my inner dialogue as I look toward heaven and speak to the one I love. What an amazing song, "Just tell me that you're okay." If this were the only song on the CD, it'd be worth it.
"Unsuffer Me" is a grueling unflinching look at the pain of loss. Sometimes you have to stare it in the face to get through it. "Anoint my head with your sweet kiss, my joy is dead; I long for bliss," she sings as what I assume is Dan Pettibone's electric guitar churns mercilessly. Yet somehow the song achieves a magical dignity. During my wife's last weeks, my daughter said to me, "It's like watching a train wreck; you can't look away." There something of that strength that comes through in Williams' music.
Other cuts are also amazing. "Learning How to Live" is a breakup song, adjusting to loss. "Fancy Funeral" may sound a bit bizarre, but I can attest that my daddy and I had almost an exact same conversation in 2001 when my mother passed. The sheer force of Lucinda's anger in "Come On" puts a smile on my face as a classic bashed-breakup song, "Dude, you're so fired; shut up, I'm not inspired." "Words" has Lucinda's voice, weathered, worn & laden taking comfort in something she likes best, writing a good song.
Yes, Lucinda has an amazing catalog of recordings from "Happy Woman Blues" to the self-titled record to Car Wheels & World Without Tears. "West" takes a well deserved place at the table as one of her most compelling, moving works. Bravo!
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartfelt and carefully crafted,
This review is from: West (Audio CD)West marks a different direction for Lucinda Williams. Her last studio album, World Without Tears, was recorded live in the studio (i.e., the whole band is playing together simultaneously, not laying down separate tracks). That approach yielded a rugged and raw production that was a departure from the highly polished recordings embodied in Essence and Car Wheels, the two albums through which many of Lucinda's current fans discovered her. West does not have that "live in the studio" rawness, but it has a looser feel than Essence and Car Wheels. (I'm listening on good headphones with a good headphone amplifier; the recorded sound is gorgeous and the textures of the music and Lucinda's vocals are amazing.) It has that effortless quality that demonstrates just how much effort went into getting it right.
West shows that Lucinda has matured significantly. She worked out a lot of raw emotion through World Without Tears and the ensuing live album. West doesn't sound as edgy or raw as those recordings, though "Come On" does come close. At the same time, West also sounds more organic and earthy than many of the tracks on Essence. And as many reviewers are already pointing out, it doesn't sound the way Car Wheels does either. But it doesn't need to sound the way Car Wheels does. At first blush, West sounds like something of a new direction for her, but I get the sense that if you take the time to listen carefully, you'll recognize that the songwriting talents that have made her such a unique performer in our disposable age are here in spades. The songs and lyrics are as intimate, engaging, and heartfelt as anything she's written or sung in the past two decades, if not more so. There is something immediately familiar about them. They're great songs, just not the kind that are going to get you dancing on the lawn when you see her on a summer tour.
Posterity is a hanging judge, but I think time will prove this album's worth. I'm glad to have it. Recommended without reservation. Keep up the good work, Lucinda.
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tortured Brilliance,
This review is from: West (Audio CD)Even though Lucinda Williams has looked for her joy from West Memphis to Slidell, she still hasn't found it- lucky for us. Finally, a record by Lucinda that surpasses Car Wheels.... This is her best work to date by far. Her lyrics are always superior and nothing has changed here in that respect. What has changed for the better in my opinion, is the music itself. The use of strings on this record is mesmerizing. It gives the music a full and complete feel-very deep and rich. And her lyrics blow me away- just listen to "What If" and "Mama You Sweet"- how does she do it????? This is an absolutely beautiful record- I think it's my favorite of 2007 so far. Raw, raunchy, sweet, funny, sad, and real. You can't beat that.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From The Heart,
This review is from: West (Audio CD)Let's start by saying that by today's standards, there are very few singer songwriters better than Lucinda Williams. It's almost unfair to compare it to her other work, because the bar has been set so high. With that said this one is still very good, although I would disagree with anyone that would call this her best yet. A previous reviewier stated that if you like "Essense" then you'll like this, and I have to agree with him. But "Essense" is still hard to top.
All and all, I do think that when we look back at the end of the year, and measure this C.D. with every other record put out by various artist, this one will still rank as one of the best of 2007. Great stuff as always by one of the best!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucinda Is Figuring Out Rock and Roll!,
This review is from: West (Audio CD)Count me as one who feels that Lucinda's greatest work was from her self titled album to Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. I love every song on those albums. What makes them special is the marriage of the music to her voice expressions. The way that the music pushes her to greater vocal heights and rawness of vocal emotion. I also loved the country sound.
The albums "Essence" and "World without Tears" were departures from the old stuff. Lucinda changed bands and went with a much more of a rock sound. I think some of these songs are great live when the band is able to stretch itself and Lucinda's singing out. But on the album format they often felt like they never got going. I do not think the band understood how to compliment Lucinda's unique style of singing. I was missing the long beautiful stories.
She is back! This time Lucinda's band sounds great behind her. This is some of her best singing since Car Wheels. The only song I could really do with out is fancy funerals.... and that will probably grow on me in time.
The best song... and maybe one of the greatest songs I have ever heard is "Learning How to Live".... wow. My fave Lucinda song since Sweet Old World. It is sad, and it is beautiful. Highly recommended!
"Where is My Love?" is very "Car Wheel and a Gravel Roadish". That song sounds great. "Are You Alright" and the beautiful "Everything Has Changed" are also highlights!
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Musical & Lyrical Masterpiece From The Master,
This review is from: West (Audio CD)I loved this album the first time I listened to it today, but then again, I knew I would before I even purchased it. I have heard Lucinda play most of these songs live the five times I have seen her over the last year and a half. As with so much of her previous work, Lucinda demonstrates on this album that she is a master songwriter & storyteller. Her ability to turn a phrase & paint a picture with an economy of words is amazing. My only complaint with this album is that there is not more - I was particularly disappointed that one of her other new songs, "Jailhouse Tears" didn't make the cut for this album. But, hopefully Lucinda will keep it in the wings & put it on her next one (and please continue playing it live too, Lu!).
Like others who have reviewed "West" here, I think comparisons to her previous body of work are somewhat unfair. Artists grow & change like everyone else. To expect them to remain static is unrealistic. Yet, while I may be biased (I like everything she has ever recorded - from "Ramblin'" on) I think if you truly like her past music, you will love "West".
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gets better with each listen,
This review is from: West (Audio CD)This CD keeps drawing me back more and more. That is the way it is with all Lucinda Williams albums. This one, in particular, treads new ground musically. While Lucinda continues her theme of earnest heart felt sadness and hope for personal redemption, the soundscapes on this one are very refreshing. The addition of viola and violin work well here for Lucinda as they did for Dylan on Desire. I value this CD as a welcome and deserved addition to my Lucinda WIlliams and Americana catalog.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lucinda Williams shines, even on a downbeat album,
This review is from: West (Audio CD)Lucinda Williams is in my opinion one of the most overlooked musicians in our era, considering that it's taken way too many years for her to get critical and some commercial acclaim, starting with 1998's "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road". The current decade has found Williams to be very productive, with 2001's "Essence" and 2003's "World Without Tears" studio albums and one live album. Now comes the new studio album.
On "West" (13 tracks, 69 min.), Lucinda Williams sings about her usual topics of relationships, loss, loneliness, heartache. She also confronts the death of her mother ("Mama You Sweet" and "Fancy Funeral"). The opener "Are You Alright" sets the tone for the album: a slow-tempo, aching song in which she wonders what has become of an old flame. There are not many up-tempo songs on here, which may bother some people, but it doesn't bother me as in the end this is a mood album. Highlights for me include "Unsuffer Me", which is the best song on this album; the bitter yet funny "Come On"; the epic 9+ Min. "Wrap My Head Around That"; the sweet "Words"; and the title track, which closes the album. The CD I bought came also with a 2 song (11 min.) bonus CD, which brings demo versions of "Where Is My Love" and "Rescue". Nice, but not really essential.
In all, I have come to like this album more with every listen. This is certainly not the most accessible Lucinda Williams, nor her best (that would still be "Car Wheels"), but this is a rich album in every sense. But it's not for anyone in a hurry. I saw Lucinda Williams live on her "World Without Tears" tour, and was blown away by her stage presence. I can't wait to see how the songs from "West" will translate in a live session.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TOPOGRAPHY OF THE HEART,
This review is from: West (Audio CD)It use to be that the release of a NEW Lucinda Williams album (since she used to take forever to craft her luxuriosly coiffed tunes) was cause for putting everything on hold and worshipping at the alt-rock alter. She has, thankfully, picked up steam of late and is cranking them out with no loss of ability to cut to and through the heart. I used to liken her to the proverbial "old soul", for she wrote about things seemingly beyond her experience and years. Like Patty Griffin and Rosanne Cash, she is that rare songwriter with the ability to locate the center of the human spirit and mine its various conditions. Time, has at last caught up, and she is smack dab where she oughta be. And I am on my knees once anew. On songs like "Are You Alright" and "Where Is My Love" she continues her quest to relocate the hurt of love, love lost, and the potential for love born anew. It doesn't get any more succinct than the beautiful chorus for "Everything Has Changed", a song about losing the intoxicating ability to feel things for the first time -'Faces look familiar but they don't have names, towns I used to live in have been rearranged, highways I once traveled down don't look the same, Everything has changed, Everything has changed'. Remember what that was like? And when she adds 'I can't find my joy anywhere', it's as though she is searching for feelings long past, like a phantom limb. And lest you think she has lost her sexual prowess, the terse "Come On" is every bit as incendiary as her self-pleasure classic "Right In Time", from 1998's seminal CARWHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD. In proving you can't go home again, she seems to be saying the home is anywhere you can get your 'jones' on. In the disceptively light and tinkling air of "What If", she puts a new twist on that old saw about 'if' being the biggest word in the English language. Putting a new spin on "when pigs fly" she sings 'I shudder to think...'(going through a long list of possibilities), while pondering what life could be like turned on its head. WEST, with its elongated musical interludes, at first seems to be a departure from the terse and simple observations of the daily struggle to find and keep comfort. What it does is place that struggle, topographically, in the expansive, harsh, arid beauty of the gulf between love and death. Close your eyes while listening to the title song, "West", and you can feel the tumble weed pass through those barren places you long ago forgot about. Home may indeed be where the heart is, but when love is gone, the heart needs to rome. 'I shudder to think' indeed. Lucinda has chronicled her search for love throughout the south and now, like a modern-day scout, she's headed west. I hope, for her, she finds it, in the meantime I will follow her passage through the emotional landscape of the heart, my heart.
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