Tuesday, March 1, 2011

If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Street Date: 03/01/11


There are few songwriters who are as explicitly soul-baring as Lucinda Williams. Her emotion and honesty when writing about love gone wrong, can often make the listener squirm as if he is being caught doing something he shouldn't.

"Baby, sweet baby, you're my drug
Come on and let me taste your stuff

Baby, sweet baby, can't get enough
Please come find me and help me get fucked up"

That is the essence of Lucinda Williams.

Her new release has all that and more, and I will go on record as saying, it is the best record she's made since 1998's now legendary, "Car Wheels On A Gravel Road."

Songs like "Buttercup" and "Seeing Black" are classic Lucinda kiss-offs, set to rollicking, roots-rock rhythms. "Born To Be Loved" is dark and smokey, feeling both hymn-like and like something that could have been found on a Billie Holiday record. Or, Ray Charles.

My favorite moments on "Blessed" are the moments when I can feel Miss Williams grabbing hold of my heart and soul, like on "I Don't Know How You're Livin'."

"I believed in you, I grieved with you, I rolled up my sleeves for you
I fed you, I clothed you, I loved you and stood up for you
I sided with you, I cried for you, I put my needs aside for you
But I don't know how you're livin, I don't know where you are."

No one does this as well as Lucinda Williams. As you listen to her confession, it's impossible to not believe, she is writing about something that just happened to her moments ago.

My other favorite moment is "Convince Me," a song that finds Lucinda pleading once more, and a band that builds slowly until it hits that sweet Southern groove. Quite simply, it feels really fucking good.

"Convince me baby, convince me baby, convince me baby."

"Blessed" is a killer and a very early contender for "Best Record Of 2011."


The great singer, songwriter, producer, guitar-player and friend to us all Buddy Miller seems to have the Midas touch lately. His last two releases, 2004's country-gospel masterpiece "Universal United House Of Prayer" and 2009's "Written In Chalk," recorded with his wife Julie Miller, both ended up on my year end "best of" lists. Then in 2010 he produced two more of my favorite records of the year, Robert Plant's "Band Of Joy, which made my Top Ten, and Patty Griffin's "Downtown Church," which did not, but not by much. Miller has the skill to stay true to the roots of music, while keeping the more impatient satisfied with smart production and outstanding musicianship.

His new project is another winner. "Buddy Miller's Majestic Silver Strings" is a retelling of country classics featuring the stellar cast of guitar players that includes BIll Frisell, Greg Leisz, Marc Ribot and Buddy himself.  Helping out on vocals is a supporting cast that is just as strong--Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin, Julie Miller, Lee Ann Womack, Chocolate Genius and more.

The mood is not traditional. It is an atmospheric and often mesmerizing collection, putting new coats of paint on such country standards as Lefty Frizell's "That's The Way Love Goes," Roger Miller's "Dang Me," and George Jones' "Why Baby Why." Plus, any album featuring "Cattle Call" has me at hello. There is also a gorgeous reading of "Return To Me." Often associated with Dean Martin, this beautiful take with Lee Ann Womack handling vocals is priceless.

All 4 guitar players shine on the "Majestic Silver Strings," but I give a lot of the credit to Buddy Miller, for putting it all together. The man can do no wrong these days.


soundsource said...

so is there any truth to the rumour that buddy is producing the next radiohead record.

Sammy said...

can't wait to hear these albums...i consider both of these artists to be the real thing (and that's not a big group)

Noam Sane said...

Gonna pick both of these up, glad to know about'em. You're right about Lucinda, it's almost painful to listen to her records sometimes, but they're so damn good.


The Lucinda is great!

Funny comment over at theawl.com

Kids these days!

"You know, when I was young, you had to wait years for a new Lucinda Williams record. These days it seems like she's releasing an album every other week. The new one is supposed to be pretty good, though, so we'll cut her some slack. You kids don't know how easy you have it."

Sal Nunziato said...

Just read the review in the NYT. Apparently, "Seeing Black" is not a "kiss-off," but about Vic Chestnutt. Boy did I get that one wrong.

Meanstreets said...

These two CD's represent the best " If it's Tuesday, It Must Be Street Date " post in quite some time.........

Meanstreets said...

I'm am partial to " basement tapes ". In the case of Lucinda's " Blessed ", " kitchen tapes "......

Please give us your opinion as to the 2 different & distinct versions of this CD, studio vs. kitchen......

Meanstreets said...

OK, so you like both versions equally well.....