Lost Highway (B0015189-02)
By Bruce Sylvester
Maybe thanks to marriage and maturity, “Blessed” is less like a road map than Williams’ 1998 breakthrough “Car Wheels On A Gravel Road.” And it’s got a lot more grit than 2007’s “West.” Savvy producer Don Was keeps the sonic palette shifting as languidly peaceful “Born To Be Loved” segues into punkish “Seeing Black,” an interrogation of Williams’ friend Vic Chestnutt after his suicide.
Dead-end men and men at the end of their lines remain a recurring theme. Elvis Costello’s slashing guitar drives the hostile opener, “Buttercup.” “Copenhagen” quietly meditates on Williams’ manager’s unexpected death. As for a fictional man who hasn’t been in her real life, the lines from “Soldier’s Song” shift between a doomed GI overseas to his stateside wife with her simple domestic duties.
Laden with near tautologies, the title track typifies Williams lean writing style. She pares things down to the basics.