She does justice to that full range on Lucinda Williams, but there's nothing showy in the way she goes about it. Instead, the album is a low-key, beguiling affair: plain-spoken lyrics, straightforward melodies, simple arrangements. Writing almost exclusively of longing, loss and desire, Williams has the sense and the skill to make her points in the most direct and least clichéd ways possible: "Side of the Road" is a striking, tentative declaration of independence; "Changed the Locks" is a hilarious but disquieting blues-rock hymn to post-breakup paranoia; and "The Night's Too Long" is a finely drawn honky-tonk equivalent to "Fast Car."
The no-frills approach lets you hear plenty of human frailties. If that means an occasional tentative vocal or an awkwardly blunt line, it also helps reinforce the feeling that you're listening to a singer who is simply telling you the truth about herself. And that's welcome in any genre.
(Posted: Jan 26, 1989)
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