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Lucinda Williams, ‘West’ (Lost Highway)

Lucinda Williams at 16th Annual Americana Music Festival & Conference - Day 3
(Photo: Erika Goldring / Getty Images for Americana Music)

Leave it to Americana’s favorite fiftysomething enfant terrible to set her greatest work against her worst. Producer Hal Willner weaves organ and violins through stunning vignettes like “Rescue” and anatomy-of-a-teardrop “Mama You Sweet,” each nudged forward by Bill Frisell’s jazzy hypno-wheels of guitar. But then some fault lines are revealed: “Come On” never improves from “Dude, I’m so over you / You don’t even have a clue,” and Williams’ sub–G. Love rapping skills get nine very long minutes in the sun on “Wrap My Head Around That.” But let those parts slide into the ocean and enjoy the remaining hour of perfectly golden brilliance.

Now Hear This: Lucinda Williams – “Are You Alright” WINDOWS MEDIA