Lucinda Williams

By - Mar 1st, 2007 02:52 pm
Get a daily rundown of the top stories on Urban Milwaukee

By Blaine Schultz
Having followed Lucinda Williams’ career since 1988, I find it no surprise that she has moved gracefully from cult artist to icon. She has maintained a consistently high level of songwriting and her choice of musicians and band mates has been impeccable. It doesn’t matter if she wears her heart on her sleeve or writes in character, Williams delivers the goods.

West is imbued with Williams’ trademark blend of weariness and grit – it’s obvious when she’s pissed off and it’s obvious when she allows the light of optimism to shine through. On the best tunes here, Williams romantic heartbreak and personal loss (the death of her mom) are grist for the mill. But philosophically, the album’s spotlight is “What If,” a tune she previewed at her last solo Pabst Theater gig. It is a list of absurdities (“… the president wore pink…God was a bum…The sky began to bleed” ) that comes to a head with a simple quest for compassion. And that is what makes any art great: the attempt at connection no matter how great or small the gulf.

It’s easy to pigeonhole Williams as a hood ornament for the NPR crowd. But she’s more genuine than any marketing scheme and more complex than many of the one-dimensional artists clogging the limited airwaves and record store CD racks. She can shift like a motorcycle in a minivan culture – not that she seems to care. As easily as she could sing her poetic numbers at an open mic night (“Are You Alright?” ), Williams can go toe-to-toe with the shit-kicker honesty of “Wrap My Head Around That.” Some of these tunes are so bare-wristed that it will be interesting to see how she deals with them live. Then again, that’s pretty much how she’s lived her career so far. It’s too bad she’ll never get to be in a Robert Altman movie. VS

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us