The latest album from Lucinda Williams is an alternately stark and raging disc, featuring deeply personal songwriting and Lucinda's unique narrative voice. Working to come to terms with her mother's death and also, in her words, "a very tumultuous relationship that ended badly," she channeled her energies into music that is not often cheerful but seeks solace through exploring the pain that inspired it.

Her theme of personal loss emerges with first single and the album's first track "Are You Alright?", which asks the title question to a suddenly departed loved one, but whether it's a former lover or her late mother we can never be quite sure.

Lucinda gets much more specific over the next several tracks, writing plaintively about her mother in "Mama You Sweet" and injecting a note of bitterness into "Fancy Funeral." Other songs are clearly about her former lover, with those songs hitting their emotional apex in the song "Come On," a blistering rocker which primarily turns out to be an ex post facto sexual taunting with which anyone spurned in love can probably empathize if not vocalize.

Although the brooding nature of most of the album's songs do not make for happy listening, one cannot deny the craft in both the music and lyrics of this album.

Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director