Music » Critic's Choice

Lucinda Williams/ Jim Lauderdale




Lucinda Williams infamously spent years making her new album, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Mercury), sound just right--so what happens when she has to perform those songs live, with no opportunity to fix the passages that displease her? Not to worry. She's lived with these "new" songs for ages now--it's been six years since her last album and since she last played Chicago--and based on the few shows I've seen by her, the restrictions of live performance do Williams wonders. Her stellar bands--the current group features lead guitarist Kenny Vaughan, Bob Dylan axman John Jackson, and backup singer Jim Lauderdale--crackle with energy, often stretching out and playing with more fire than in the studio, and Williams's remarkable voice sounds even more intimate, desperate, vulnerable, indignant, and proud. Since she hardly ever makes albums, a concert also affords a chance to hear truly new, unrecorded material. Williams is riding a wave of critical adoration for what is arguably the best album of the year, and her shows have been selling out, so she's bound to be in a serious groove. Lauderdale, who earlier this year released Whisper (RCA)--the best mainstream country album of the year, despite the fact that the mainstream has completely ignored it--will open the show with a solo set. Thursday, September 3, 7:30 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 773-929-5959 or 312-559-1212. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Lucinda Williams uncredited photo; Jim Lauderdale photo by sandra Johnson.

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