All photos by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Lucinda Williams gave a nearly sold-out crowd at The Keswick Theatre a glorious slice of her musical history on Saturday night. There was the promised retelling of her self-titled third album released 25 years ago to begin the night. Those 12 songs depict Williams’ strengths in the country realm, with hints of rock and blues throughout. Williams and her band, featuring Stuart Mathis on guitar, expertly showcased the album, name-dropping those who covered such classics as “The Night’s Too Long” (Patty Loveless), “Changed the Locks” (Tom Petty), and “Passionate Kisses” (Mary Chapin Carpenter). But this was not a show about hubris; it was about her shifting contexts and fantastic contributions to the world of music. Her last 10 songs certainly had a greater edge of rock. This was seen most dramatically on “Joy” and the title track to her last album, 2011’s Blessed, which was sandwiched between two stunning covers in the encore: J.J. Cale’s “Magnolia” and Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” Beyond the musical genres, though, Williams truly showcased her poetic voice, as found in such works as “Lake Charles” and “Righteously,” where she put down her guitar to focus on the raplike delivery. The hints of her next album in the unreleased “Something Wicked This Way Comes” distilled her essence into three solid minutes, leaving the audience with the knowledge that so much more greatness is on the horizon. And as Williams, Mathis and company jammed within the confines of Young’s masterpiece to close out the night, Williams’ identity crystalized into that of a vessel for hope and courage in the greatest and toughest of times.