With Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, her 1998 tour de force, Lucinda Williams finally perfected the approach that gave her voice the vitality needed to sustain her depressive missives. Each studio album since has been a subtle variation on that approach. Most of the time she whispers more and allows her voice to languidly deliver her physical and emotional desires until everything sounds sleepy-eyed and seductive. This is one slow burning album. While album credit readers will be excited to see the esteemed names Jim Keltner on drums and Hal Willner as producer, they merely serve the occasion. This is still the Lucinda Williams show from the beginning longing of “Are You Alright?” through the album’s brooding title track that closes the album. In between, she uses her southern sassiness to repeat phrases until the obsessive-compulsive nature of her desires is clear. “Learning How To Live” proceeds with a stately organ warming the vibe. “Fancy Funeral” and “Unsuffer Me” are as desperate as their titles suggest, unafraid to slow down to the point of doom. “I long for bliss,” she sings. Depends on how you define it.

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