Lucinda Williams

Little Honey (Lost Highway)

Phases & Stages

Lucinda Williams

Little Honey (Lost Highway)

Like Austin itself, a city she called home in the 1970s, Lucinda Williams has long bent country poetry to her own needs, creating a folksy sound part rock, part blues, and all heart. With Little Honey, she pays back fans whose faith had waned as her songwriting grew pedantic on recent albums such as West. "I've found the love I've been looking for, standing up behind an electric guitar," she crows on the opening track, "Real Love." Whether that's the player or the playing is never made clear, but it's crystal Williams has her joy back. Older songs from her catalog ("If Wishes Were Horses," "Well Well Well") are well-harvested to join the new, all masterfully laid down by her seasoned road band, Buick 6. The barroom shuffle of "Circles and X's" drinks the heart out of an afternoon, while "Honey Bee" demonstrates that women of a certain age can still sound as raw and randy as teenagers. Guests include Matthew Sweet and Suzanna Hoffs, while Elvis Costello duets on "Jailhouse Tears," a she-said-he-said that plants a sloppy, knowing kiss on the C&W classics of Tammy and George, Johnny and June. Williams wraps with AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top," a totally unnecessary cover that nonetheless – along with her sporadic Janis Joplin-like chuckles – reminds us that it's better to rock out than fade away.

****

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