For the better part of four decades, Lucinda Williams has been one of Texas' best and most dependable songwriters and performers. Over the course of ten albums, Williams has moved from earthy blues and folk to jangly country/pop and has even dabbled in more contemporary sounds. What has remained consistent is her breathtaking vocal delivery and unflinching honesty.
In anticipation of Williams performing this Thursday at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, we at DC9 decided to take a shot at listing the eleven best songs in this woman's impressive catalogue.
11.Changed the Locks
- from 1988's self-titled third effort (still considered by many to be her best effort), "Change the Locks" is one of Williams' most hard hitting numbers. Her sneering vocal performance fits the song's ill-tempered mood. The Silos do a great version of this on their 1994 albumSusan Across the Ocean
10. Steal Your Love - from 2001's Essence, this mid-tempo cut is filled with yearning and regret: two of Williams' most common themes. The album always gets a bad rap from fans, but "Steal Your Love" fits right alongside Williams' best work.
9.Six Blocks Away
- the opening cut from 1990'sSweet Old World
, "Six Blocks Away" is one of Williams' best jangle pop/country songs. Interestingly, the song's lyrics offer none of the music's bright optimism. Perhaps that is why the song works so well.
8.Right in Time
- the first blast from 1998'sCar Wheels on a Gravel Road
, "Right in Time" set the tone for what some critics have called Williams' best album. Most great albums begin with a great song and this time was no exception.
- Also fromSweet Old World
, "Pineola" concerns the suicide of southern poet Frank Stanford, who shot himself in the heart in 1978.
6.Fruits of My Labor
- Another great opening cut, "Fruits of My Labor" starts off 2003'sWorld Without Tears
with a slow, affecting waltz. Williams' singing here is simply amazing as her Louisiana twang is drawn out to epic proportions.
- From 2011'sBlessed
, "Seeing Black" is Williams at her angriest. Needless to say, when she's pissed, Williams is always spot on in her critique of an ex-lover.
- Another song fromCar Wheels on a Gravel Road,
"Drunken Angel" is a sad tale of alcohol and drug abuse that ends predictably but never panders to cliché. Judging by the passion in her voice, you can almost hear the tears running down Williams' cheeks.
- from 2008'sLittle Honey
(an underappreciated effort), "Real Love" is a return to the jangle pop/country days of old. The band includes Matthew Sweet, Susanna Hoffs and Doug Pettibone so the more straightforward style was not unexpected.
- another fantastic cut from Williams' self-titled third effort, "Crescent City" is brimming with Cajun charm. With a chorus partly sung in French, the song is a perfect example of Williams' exemplary gift of wordplay and melody.
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1.Side of the Road
- also from her third effort, "Side of the Road" encapsulates everything great about Lucinda Williams. It's a sad, but uplifting story of the limits of true love. It's a song about wanting time for you even in the most serious of relationships. "I want to know the touch of my own skin/ against the sun, against the wind," Williams sings as the simple music paints the scene beautifully. It's a transcendent moment from a songwriter with transformative skills.