Lucinda Williams doesn’t record many covers. I count exactly two covers in her discography other than this one — a lovely version of Nick Drake’s ‘Which Will’ that appeared on Sweet Old World, and ‘Can’t Let Go,’ by Randy Weeks, which appears on Car Wheels On a Gravel Road, and which, to be honest, I didn’t know was a cover until I just looked it up.
So Williams choice to close out her 2008 album Little Honey with a rollicking version of AC/DC’s classic ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top’ was unexpected. But certainly not unwelcome… Williams’ standard mode is melancholy blues but she rocks out with the best of them.
Sadly, the draconian Warner Music Group decision to pull all their content from YouTube has forced me to skip over Lucinda Williams’ next two albums — World Without Tears and West — and straight to her latest release, Little Honey. I really hope WMG pulls its head out of its ass and realizes that they’re doing nothing but losing free advertising and generating a lot of ill will.
World Without Tears came just two years after Essence and was Williams’ most ambitious record yet. She rocked harder than ever on the album and explored talking blues (bordering on rap) on a couple of tunes. She also delivered her rawest lyrics yet… miles away from the sweet acoustic love songs of 20+ years earlier.
Ten Best Songs of 2008 – #5
Any new Lucinda Williams album is a special treat, and 2008’s Little Honey proved to be her strongest collection since Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. Much was made of the “happy” Lucinda that showed up on this album, as love songs filled the grooves usually occupied by hard luck tales. And to be sure, the album does contain some of her most lyrically upbeat material.
But the song that hit me the hardest on this album isn’t a love song or a happy song, and it’s not even a new song. It’s a somber ballad of regret written way back in 1985 but reaching the light of day for the first time last year.
Lucinda Williams has been on a tear in recent years. After releasing a total of four albums during the first 18 years of her career, she has released another four in the past seven. Her latest, Little Honey, follows right on the heels of 2007’s West.
Her most notorious dry spell was the six years between Sweet Old World and Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, when her perfectionism got the better of her and she refused to release Car Wheels until it was just right. And I can’t argue with that, because it is a perfect album… one of the few in my collection about which I’ll say that without reservation. But still, six years is a long time.