Tuesday, February 13, 2007

lucinda williams - west

Available for around $23 at JB Hi-Fi in Melbourne since middle of last week, the WEST album by Lucinda Williams is, as they say, eagerly anticipated, long awaited and ..........a big disappointment for fans.

Initially I thought it was just me. Sometimes the day is wrong, the car not the best place to listen, the couch not the best place to listen, it will be better late at night, a few grogs perhaps, or my non active listening fallback, I'll put it on while cooking.

I'm thinking, where's the twang, who is playing pedal steel, slide, fiddle. Answer no one. At least not so you can hear. OK. I'm cool. It's moody perhaps. It's Lu's Wrecking Ball. Nope. Maybe it's what we used to call the crossover album. Oh well there's 13 tracks must be something soon. Ah. Track 7, Come, On sounds great. Go back turn it up loud. Good. Play it again. And again. No. It won't sustain repeated listening. It's not Changed the Locks.

So maybe this is the album for the girls not us boys. But the most respected female country music blogger in Australia the world, Flop Eared Mule,
reviews it over at Hickory Wind and has a similar thumbs down to me.

Lucinda's voice is magnificent with age. Weary, alive and kicking, but let down by the production, backing, and yes, her own songwriting. I've had much the same problems with Van Morrison's last few albums. His voice is still great enough to hope for more but the songs and arrangements are by-the-numbers.

What was I hoping for? Blood On The Tracks or even Desire,
perhaps Tonights The Night, or highlighting that grain in the voice, an American series type album. Her voice has that quality of Cash's that will reward close mike recording and sparse arrangements. But the songs on this album just aren't there.

It occurred to me that this album might be the one that non country fans might buy and consequently get curious about the back catalogue. I'm not about to put my copy on eBay, but I can't see it getting too many scuff marks from repeated playing.

It's no accident that I compared Lucinda Williams to Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Neil Young.

Life goes on. I'm sitting here waiting for the next album by Lucinda Williams.