World Without Tears
The basic tracks cut live with her road band at the '20's Paramour Estate in Silver Lake, California with Dylan's engineer Mark Howard, World Without Tears stands as Lucinda Williams' most confrontational and immediate work. A notoriously neurotic control freak, Williams still manages tight reign on the raw emotional material in her songwriting, but her performances here are straight from the gut. How else can an album half built with ballads resound with such visceral impact? From the opening, lonesome whine of "Fruits of My Labor" to the angry loneliness at the heart of "Those Three Days," Williams uses her silence as effectively as the bluesy guitar and vocal slur that lights up the raging heart of "Atonement." Love is the drug and its addictive, insidious nature works on Williams' psyche at every chord change. She opens up with compassion one moment ("Sweet Side") only to be punched in the heart with the next tour of heartbreak ("Minneapolis"). This is an incredibly poignant, emotionally difficult album worthy of the best country, rock, and blues that it embraces.