1988, Music

Lucinda Williams (1988)

I was going to say that there’s something about a debut that tempers my expectations in a way that doesn’t happen with other albums. But this record wasn’t her debut; I hadn’t realized she put out two records way, way earlier, in 1979 and 1980. So I guess the positive spin on this is that at least my expectations were tempered unlike Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.

I can imagine getting excited about this in 1988. Here’s a strong female songwriter with basically none of the awful ’80s Nashville sound (because she was in California).

Because I thought this was her debut, I was willing to forgive whatever I didn’t love in her songwriting on the one later record I’ve heard. But I might just like this set of songs better than that one, I honestly don’t know. She’s not an absolutely stellar songwriter, but she’s certainly good enough. (Certainly she writes in a relatively traditional country singer-songwriter vein compared to my favourite songwriters.)

The real appeal, I think, for most people is the aesthetic, refreshingly raw and rootsy for ’80s country. In fact, it’s significantly rawer than some of the music put out by the “alternative country” types in Nashville, who were then being heralded for breaking from the Nashville sound. (And they’re still heralded.)

Here we have a woman who doesn’t care what the industry thinks, and is going to record her songs her way. It’s extremely refreshing and it’s brave given the era it was recorded in.

8/10

All songs written by Lucinda Williams except where noted.

  1. “I Just Wanted to See You So Bad” – 2:25
  2. “The Night’s Too Long” – 4:15
  3. “Abandoned” – 3:45
  4. “Big Red Sun Blues” – 3:27
  5. “Like a Rose” – 2:37
  6. “Changed the Locks” – 3:39
  7. “Passionate Kisses” – 2:35
  8. “Am I Too Blue” – 2:55
  9. “Crescent City” – 3:01
  10. “Side of the Road” – 3:27
  11. “Price to Pay” – 2:46
  12. “I Asked for Water (He Gave Me Gasoline)” (Chester Burnett) – 3:43
  • Lucinda Williams – lead vocals, acoustic guitar
  • Gurf Morlix – vocals, guitars, mandolin, dobro, pedal steel, lap steel, six-string bass
  • Dr John Ciambotti – Fender three-string bass, stand-up bass, Kramer-Ferrington bass
  • Donald Lindley – drums

Additional musicians:

  • Skip Edwards – keyboards
  • Juke Logan – harmonica
  • Doug Atwell – fiddle
  • Steve Mugalian – washboard
  • Chris Gaffney – accordion
  • Jim Lauderdale – backup vocals
  • Pat Quinn – backup vocals

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