By Bruce Sylvester
Lucinda Williams was in peak form last night at Boston’s House of Blues in a show stretching from her new Blessed (on Lost Highway) back to her early Folkways (now Smithsonian Folkways) songs like “I Lost It” and “Happy Woman Blues.”
Amid her pared-down guitar/bass/drums backup, Val McCallum – who’s also on Blessed – did everything from spitfire blues notes to Johnny Cash-like train rhythms. Lucinda was clearly having a good time, as was the audience, which happily turned hooks like “bleeding fingers and broken guitar strings,” “concrete and barbed wire” and “we are so out of touch” into happy singalongs.
In an excellent March 1 Wall Street Journal article (“Drawn from a Well of Experience” by Jim Fusilli), she discusses her recent marriage and newfound happiness, but there are still problematic guys – or even dead ones – in her new songs. “Buttercup” snarls at a less than ideal exboyfriend. “Copenhagen” laments the passing of her longtime manager. Reflecting on her friend Vic Chestnutt’s suicide, she delivers “Seeing Black” with punkish anger. On more of an up note, here’s a Youtube video of “Born to Be Loved” from an earlier concert.
At 58, to adapt words from one of World without Tears’ songs, she’s enjoying the fruits of her labor, fruits whose truth has been her savior. In some sense, maybe her truths are her listeners’ savior too.