Lucinda Williams

at Brookhaven (NY) Amphitheater. Her usual mix of rock songs with country songs is jarring but interesting. But the contrast was a bit more jarring this night : she did two numbers with bluegrass great Charlie Louvin, then launched into ’90s heavy rock/ AOR (with traces of metal) for the next four songs. The new songs in the bunch were, with one exception, harder than even her past forays into hard rock. In a way, that music suits her lyrics better : so many songs were almost clinically cynical and aimed at bursting any bubbles. Lost love, lost faith, lost hope, and most of all, lost joy. Usually (not always) even when it’s about sex. She doesn’t seem like someone who’s actually really lost any of that, but that is her lyric of choice. But then again, there were moments she seemed like she lost track of what she was doing — all that changing of gears, so much material, maybe some other reasons.

I must say, those are not my kind of song. It shows one kind of reality, but telling reality does not always tell truth, at least when taken in isolated moments almost shorn of context. It tells feelings and thoughts fairly straight, then spins them out so you catch how deep (or shallow) they go. Not bad, but then not good enough, either. It just is, that’s all. Maybe that’s the most honest way to be. But it does lack something, not as a style but as a way of seeing the world. Lucinda does this way of seeing with consummate skill. But the more you talk/sing like that, the more it starts working on your mind. Both rock and country have ample evidence of that. I hope that doesn’t happen to her, but it’s a hard path to refuse.

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