2001, Music

Essence (2001) by Lucinda Williams

Mostly, I’m much more of a fan of Williams’ aesthetic than I am of her songs. Mostly.

But I’m not sure I’ve heard a better song of hers than “I Envy the Wind.” And there are one or two others on here that aren’t quite at that level but are close ish. I certainly like more of the songs on this record than I have on others. Unfortunately, there are still some I don’t like, but I think that might be just be the way it is for me when it comes to Williams as a songwriter.

I still very much enjoy the aesthetic. She’s not doing anything special, just her thing, which is very much a thing that many other people have done. But I am a sucker for that thing and I can’t help enjoy records like this, even if I acknowledge that literally zero new ground is being broken.

Her voice is still something I’m not completely sold on either. She’s a distinctive singer and certainly songwriters who are not great singers are allowed to sing their songs. But I’m not sure I’m ever getting to the point where I enjoy her voice. There are times where I think it works very well, on certain songs, but there remain songs where I think a better singer might sell me the song. It’s mostly a personal preference thing. Maybe it will change if/when I listen to more of her records.

But I do think the set of songs here is one of the stronger ones I’ve heard from her. And that makes it work for me. As I said, she’s absolutely not reinventing the wheel, but she’s a decent enough songwriter (especially here) and her aesthetic is very much on the side that I like. (Can you imagine a polished singer singing these songs where everything is rehearsed to death? Ugh.) It might be my favourite album of hers I’ve heard so far. (And I’ve not heard many.)

7/10

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