Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Lucinda Williams: West [Lost Highway, 2007]
The young are right to think she's old--having finally broken through at 45, she's now 54. She affects authenticity as shamelessly as her role model, Bob Dylan. But with respect to all the other noble old pros deploying blues and country readymades, the craftiness of Williams' vocals, meaning their unnaturalness, secures their vitality. She doesn't fake spontaneity--she honors it as one of the constellation of life virtues she hopes her songs evoke and subsume. Protruding from this metaphysical quest, her palpable concern for her ex-lover and warm affection for her mom are strengthened rather than compromised, and when she disses her dead mom's funeral, the bile seems organic by contrast. Certainly not what I would call soul. But it knows things about soul that the soulful may not. A