Lucinda Williams, "Blessed"


On the defiant song "Awakening," Lucinda Williams tells listeners, "I will want for nothing, I will give you a gift." That present comes in the form of her 10th studio album, "Blessed," a dozen emotionally devastating songs that find the singer/songwriter at nothing less than the top of her game. On the new collection Williams is sharp-tongued, wide-eyed and warm-hearted as she blends domestic bliss ("Kiss Like Your Kiss," "Sweet Love") with her usual propensity toward the dark and mournful. You'd be hard-pressed to find an anti-war paean as resonant as the hypnotic "Soldier's Song," or rumination on suicide more desperate and raw than the rocking "Seeing Black," with Elvis Costello providing a blistering guitar attack. With Matthew Sweet singing backup on three tracks and the Wallflowers' Rami Jaffee playing keyboards throughout, Williams works her way through country ("Don't Know How You're Living," "Ugly Truth"), soul ("Convince Me") and the hymnal ambience of the title track, handling a broad emotional breadth with surprisingly supple dexterity.