Classroom conversation and cultural commentary / Jim Cullen
Monday, April 18, 2011
Jim is on the road, trying to help his son decide between college acceptances at Davidson and the University of Chicago. Welcome company on this trip has been provided by Lucinda Williams, with her new album Blessed, which may well be her best since the magnificent Car Wheels on a Dirt Road (1998). The new record, whose artistic locus appears a bit closer to Memphis than Nashville, is a beautifully produced record (no surprise there; Don Was pitched in) notable for some wonderful guitar performances by Val McCallum, whose playing swings between Stevie Ray Vaughn blues and Van Morrisonesque plucking that's sweeter than Tupelo honey. The songwriting is also strong; the opening track, "Buttercup," is tart and true, while the title cut unwinds like a hymn. Threading through it all is Williams's voice. She sings like a drunken angel, miraculously pure and incisive even as she sounds perpetually off balance. There's nothing like it in contemporary pop music, and it will surely wear well.
The ongoing series on Tom Hanks will continue, as will some book reviews that are in this blog's docket. For now, this goyim will end on the eve of Passover by saying: Shalom.