Since moving to L.A. and marrying her manager, Tom Overby, on stage after a Minneapolis, Minn. concert in a nod to the late Hank Williams (no relation)- who married his second wife, Billie Jean, on stage in New Orleans – the Queen of Americana Music has seemed more satisfied of late and, dare I say, happy.
Williams catalog, like the great songs from country and blues music, is full of great songs about lost or unrequited love, but happiness? How does that work?
On her 9th studio album, Blessed Williams’ proves it can work quite well. The album opener Born To Be Loved is a tender blues number of affirmations. “You weren’t born to be abandoned. You weren’t born to be forsaken, you were born to be loved.” Williams world-weary voice and great immediacy of Producer Don Was and musical accompaniment drains any sap that might have crept into the song Buttercup is a barn burner that continues analogous caparisons with love and the natural world that was part of her last release Little Honey.
Not that everything has been rosy in her life; Williams saw the death of her longtime manager Frank Callari and the suicide of musical contemporary Vic Chesnutt, but the respective odes to these lost friends, the Wicked Game-slink of Copenhagen and the rocking Seeing Black take these difficult topics and reflects on them with maturity and grace.
This approach is also applied to Soldier’s Song , a statement on war told as a shifting narrative from the killing fields to Main Street. It’s striking in how Williams finds from the poignant to normality and back again to heartbreaking conclusion.
I Don’t Know How You’re Livin’ is a song of devotion and faith that rolls on waves of pedal steel and slide guitar and Convince Me simmers with a longing from the narrator that succinctly sets the tone for the records, and Lucinda Williams new direction overall. She’s seems be be hopeful by creating songs that direct us toward, if not outright deliver at our feet, hope.