Lucinda Williams

West (Lost Highway)

Phases & Stages

Lucinda Williams

West (Lost Highway)

A decade ago, no Lucinda Williams fan could have imagined that West would be her third album in six years. She was, after all, the poster girl for artists who took their sweet time but delivered stunning results. Here she's working through another difficult breakup in producer Hal Willner's softer hues of rainy-day jazz, muted R&B, and ethereal Americana, not the stinging blues and bizarre quasi-rap of 2003's World Without Tears. "Come On" simmers and seethes, poignant "Learning How to Live" carries a Sweet Old World chime, and "Wrap My Head Around That" builds to a frothy head of boho-blues as Williams criticizes some unfortunate cad's "little party favor." Elsewhere, West is just too musically placid or lyrically uninspired to elicit much passion from either the listener or, disappointingly, Williams herself. She's been down this gravel road before, and those car wheels sound precariously close to spinning in place.


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