It’s not all that hard to find an artist who’s capable of offering a guided tour of life’s dark clouds. Nor is it rare to come into contact with one who can hone in on the silver lining. But the ability to do both with equal grace, well, that’s an altogether rarer gift — and it’s one that Lucinda Williams displays with remarkable style and vigor on “Blessed.”
“Blessed,” recorded at the end of what Williams calls “a really big writing streak that gave me enough to make two albums,” brings those textures to play in some of the most straightforward songs she’s ever written.
Williams is the headlining performer for this year’s Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, set for Sept. 20-22. She will perform at 10:45 p.m., Sept. 20, on the Piedmont Stage in historic downtown Bristol.
Williams, the daughter of a poet and literature professor father and an amateur pianist mother, recorded her first albums in 1978 and 1980 in a traditional country and blues style, receiving very little attention from radio, the media or the public.
In 1988, she released the self-titled “Lucinda Williams” which featured “Passionate Kisses.” The song was later recorded by Mary Chapin Carpenter and garnered Williams her first Grammy for Best Country Song.
Known for working slowly, Williams recorded and released only one other album in the next several years, “Sweet Old World” in 1992, before her greatest success came in 1998 with “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.”
Since “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road,” which went gold and earned her a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album, Williams has released a string of albums that have also been critically acclaimed, though none have sold in the numbers of her 1998 breakthrough. She followed up the success of “Car Wheels” in 2001 with “Essence,” which featured a less-produced, more down-tuned approach both musically and lyrically.
Her seventh album, “World Without Tears,” was released in 2003. She followed that in 2007 with “West,” for which she wrote more than 27 songs. Her next album, “Little Honey,” was released in October 2008 and includes a cover of AC/DC’s “Long Way to the Top.”
On March 1, 2011, Williams released “Blessed.” She has spent the last two years touring the United States with guitarist Doug Pettibone.