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@ the Fillmore
Artist: Lucinda Williams
Label: Lost Highway Records
Length: 2 discs – disc 1 – 10/49:53 / - disc 2 – 12/65:41
Lucinda Williams' voice is an acquired taste. Raw, raspy, filled with despair and the memories of rough road, it is an amalgam of the late Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, Loretta Lynn, Neil Young, and a female counterpart to Jim Morrison. It absolutely falls into the "love it or hate it" category, but may draw you in with the depth of the words it utters.
Live @ the Fillmore features Williams and band's highlights from three shows at the venerable Fillmore West in San Francisco last November. Lest we forget we are live, the crowd noise is left in between songs, and disc 2 includes a piece entitled "Real Live Bleeding Fingers and Broken Guitar Strings".
The show itself is fairly typical for Williams, blending a mix of country, rock, and folk, all sung with a whiskey-tinged vocal hat gives the impression that Williams is old before her time. "Ventura" comes off as a Fleetwood Mac homage, while "Reason to Cry" is more old school country, in the vein of Patsy Cline or Loretta Lynn. "Out of Touch" allows guitarist Doug Pettibone to stretch, and combines a Lynyrd Skynyrd riff with a Neil Young style jam. "Sweet Side" is a song Karin Bergquist of Over the Rhine should consider covering – all it needs is a more tuneful vocal to be just about perfect.
"Pineola" will satisfy those who want Williams at her most fragile, with a rambling vocal that is warbled in the mode of a hard drinker. "Righteously" is a come on, flirting with an unseen man, reminding him that he doesn't "have to prove your manhood to me constantly." "Joy" is a meld between '60's rockers Janis Joplin and the Doors' Jim Morrison. For those who have heard Williams on the radio, "Essence" is also performed on disc two.
For fans of Lucinda Williams, this set will ring authentic. For casual listeners like myself, Williams is fine as a once in a while, "I like that song" type of performer, but not melodic enough to sustain my attention for the almost two hours these discs contain.
Brian A. Smith