Lost Highway Records
On her new release called West, Lucinda Williams opts for a slow groove of a record, with big time production value. To get there, she enlisted the talents of masterful knob turner Hal Willner (Lou Reed, Marianne Faithful, Bill Frisell) to help her shape the album. Willner’s production touches are all over West. A studio band featuring guest hot shots like Frisell (guitars), Tony Garnier (bass) and Jim Keltner (drums, percussion) joining regulars from Williams’ road band such as Doug Pettibone (guitars) and Rob Burger (keys) further fortifies the proceedings resulting in a longplayer which, precision wise, is about as perfect from the sonic standpoint as anything she has done. An album on which the songwriting and overall tone was dictated in large part by the recent death of Williams’ mother, the somberness of the 13-song affair can be lulling in ways both good and bad. Fans of Williams’ early, more rocking and blues tunes may find the lengthy stretches of unhurried sounds on the sprawling West a little too plodding. Myself a fan from way, way back, the record hits a point when you’re begging the players to put the pedal to the metal and let it rip. Equate it to something on the order of extended foreplay which can sometimes be great and other times just needs to get to the next step. Ironically, in the case of West, the “next step” finally arrives out at track seven with the explosive “Come On” which, F bomb and all, rocks like a mother and is all about you know what. From there it’s back into the slow play mode. Perhaps that makes West a bedroom record and quite frankly, there’s nothing wrong with that as long as the lights are low and ……… (Lost Highway Records c/o Universal Music Group, 54 Music Square East, Nashville, TN 37203)
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 – 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)<...