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Lucinda Williams Displays Talent and the Truth

March 14th, 2011

Lucinda Williams – Webster Hall – March 11, 2011

Lucinda Williams - Webster Hall - March 11, 2011

On Friday, at the first of her two sold-out shows at Webster Hall, Lucinda Williams’ performance reinforced some important truths for her fans. The first, and perhaps most important, was that whether dipping into roots-y country and blues (“Get Right with God”), sweetly harmonized country (“Fruits of My Labor”) or Americana-infused roughly hewn rock songs (“Real Live Bleeding Fingers and Broken Guitar Strings”), the prolific singer-songwriter shifts gears effortlessly; and her distinctive, emotional voice rose to the occasion for each song.

In addition to this display of her singular talent, Williams conveyed another equally compelling reminder throughout the show. “This is another song about another beautiful loser,” she remarked, smirking, of “Drunken Angel,” referencing her penchant for eviscerating no-good men in her songs. When introducing “Buttercup,” from her new record, Blessed, she joked, “This is the only bad-boy song on the new album…. I still have a little bit left in my system.” And as she introduced “Jailhouse Tears,” Williams was quick to point out that, yes, it’s about the same guy. In summary: If you do Lucinda Williams wrong, she will not let you off the hook without a song (or a few), as the set list pointed out.

Of course, it would be shortsighted to classify Lucinda Williams’ extensive catalog as full of songs all about heartbreak. One of her many strengths as a songwriter is the way she can infuse even the most downtrodden tale with strength, confidence and power—never bitterness. On Friday night, this unique quality of her music was underscored as the band began the encore with the title track off Blessed, where Williams’ straightforward lyrics provide a sweet reminder of the many things to be thankful for in this often crazy, messed up world. —Alena Kastin

Photo courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | www.gregggreenwood.com