Sign up for newsletter
 

In crazy times, a little Williams joy endures

Yost Theatre, Santa Ana, Cal., January 14, 2017

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Other recent concert reviews
Nearly a week before the inauguration President-elect Donald Trump, Lucinda Williams served notice she's set on counting her blessings (opening her concert with "Blessed"), and determined not to let her joy be stolen by troubled times (closing with "Joy"). With a nearly two-hour set, Williams drew from all points her recording career for a fully satisfying set.

Williams spoke little, but when she did introduce a few songs, her humility stood out. She kicked off "Drunken Angel," a gripping song about a troubled musician, by stating it's a song that resonates with her fans. She said this, almost as if she were surprised folks like it. Later she previewed "Sweet Old World," a lyrical response to a friend's suicide, by complementing Emmylou Harris' cover of the ballad. Granted, Harris is the ultimate female song interpreter. However, fans love Williams because her voice contains such distinct character and there is nobody quite like her. She's something truly special.

It's impossible to pin Williams music down to just one genre. She's as much a blues singer, as a country gal. She expressed her eclectic streak by singing "Bitter Memory," which has a rockabilly feel and even featured band bassist accompanying her on a standup bass. And live, her song "Foolishness" took on a rocking, early Pretenders feel.

This Williams date was so satisfying because she filled her set with many of her best songs. She played Randy Weeks' "Can't Let Go" early on, and included plenty of tracks from her best album, "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road," including "Lake Charles."

Before Williams sent the audience home with "Joy," she sang a couple of cover songs. The first was a slowed down version of Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love & Understanding," which had many in the audience singing along as though it were a prayer. Next, she covered ZZ Top's blues/gospel number, "Jesus Just Left Chicago."

This Williams concert provided a sound reminder that even during crazy and worrisome political days, one can still experience a little Lucinda joy.