My list of favorite albums in recent years is so dominated by female artists that it’s a shock to look back at 2001 and see how bro-tastic my tastes were then.
Lucinda Williams’ Essence, my #6 album of that year, is the only work by a woman in my top ten.
Now, in my defense, I haven’t found a lot of strong female contenders among the albums I missed out on in 2001. Maybe it just wasn’t a strong year for women in music. But it is striking, especially coming off of a year when five of my top seven albums were by women.
I consider myself a lyrics person, but every once in awhile I completely miss the boat and either have no clue what a song is about or don’t take the time to fully appreciate its lyrical content.
Lucinda Williams’ ‘Bus to Baton Rouge,’ the closing track of her 2001 album Essence, eluded me until just this week.
I’m very excited. I got an email the other day advertising a pre-order sale of the new Lucinda Williams album, Blessed. It’s due out on March 1.
This will be Williams’ fifth album in ten years, which is pretty impressive for a woman who put out only four albums in the 20 years prior to that.
Around the turn of the millennium, she shook off the perfectionism that made her spend 6 years on Car Wheels On a Gravel Road and started churning out records that were rougher around the edges.
Next up in my theme week on religious faith is Lucinda Williams’ ‘Get Right With God,’ the lone upbeat track on her emotional 2002 album Essence.
Yesterday’s track was about doubting god… today’s is the polar opposite.
Williams was inspired to write this song by the displays of evangelical belief she saw around her growing up in Louisiana. The sort of people who believe in an inerrant Bible and are willing to take up snakes to prove their faith.
Car Wheels on a Gravel Road was a tough act to follow and Williams responded by going a whole new direction on her next release, Essence, released a relatively short (by her standards) two years later.
Essence eschewed the country rock and blues style of her earlier albums in exchange for a jazzier sound while the very specific lyrical content of previous songs was replaced by more abstract mood pieces. This is the album that suddenly made Lucinda Williams impossible to pin down in a single genre.