When she started out she was known simply as Lucinda, her repertoire consisting of traditional country blues stylistically she recalled the early years of Bonnie Raitt (circa 1971-72). She’s come a long way since Lucinda Williams virtually defines the Americana genre (or that new wave of American roots-oriented music, where blues, country, gospel, rock, folk, etc. intersect/overlap/coalesce).
Her last disc, West, was (over-) produced by Hal Wilner and featured guest shots from aces such as Bill Frisell. Rebounding, Lucinda Williams delivers Little Honey, a bracing slab of adult roots music. Backed by her lean, mean touring band Buick 6 (guess from where that moniker came) and a few guests (horns by the Fowler brothers, keys played by NYC ace/Tzadik artist Rob Burger), Little Honey is rich with pointed, rough-hewn, rockin’ blues/blues-charged rock and Southern-fried soul with a pronounced country twang. Williams’ voice remains that slightly raspy, more-than-slightly vulnerable, slightly inebriated emotive marvel, and the production is straightforward and unfussy. There is an occasional misstep the honky-tonkin’ duet with Elvis Costello, "Jailhouse Tears" sounds like it was written in five minutes and is sung with more joie de vive than it deserves but then again, "Tears Of Joy" sounds like the best blue-eyed soul song Dusty Springfield never did. While no classic (like her self-titled disc or Car Wheels On A Gravel Road), Ms. LW is back with a vengeance. For slightly older or more blues-leaning listeners, imagine if 1930s/40s blues goddess Memphis Minnie had been born in the 1950s by now, she might’ve indeed been Lucinda.