‘Essence’ is a duet with fellow Nigerian vocalist Tems in which the two flirt over Afrobeat rhythms. The version that sits at #11 on this week’s Hot 100 (one slot behind Dua Lipa’s ‘Levitating’) also features a verse by Justin Bieber.
Like many songs on the album, ‘Are You Down’ has few lyrics and a whole lot of atmosphere. The interplay of guitar and drums on this track has a distinct Dire Straits vibe, which is certainly a good thing in my book.
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.
Lucinda Williams’ ‘Bus to Baton Rouge,’ the closing track of her 2001 album Essence, eluded me until just this week.
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.