Lucinda Williams is one of those artists so totally respected (read: fawned over) by her peers and critics alike, that it makes one almost want say negative things just for the hell of it ñ just to be crazy and different. Unfortunately for the nonconformist in me, there's nothing but good stuff to say about her latest alt-country release, Essence.Following right on the heels of the brilliant, career-defining Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, a swaggering and fierce record, Essence moves along more gently and intimately - the inevitable comedown. The only exceptions to this being the dark, obsession-fueled title-track and the country foot-stomper, "Get Right With God."
Her lyrics, as always, hit the emotional mark without getting too wordy or pretentious ñ a talent she has mastered over her three-decade career. As a whole, although Essence doesn't quite sustain the level of excellence of Car Wheels,it is a far superior effort than most artists could ever hope to create.