Lucinda Williams: Little Honey

"Throw a wide loop," my dad used to say, and Lucinda Williams has certainly thrown her widest musical loop yet with Little Honey. After 2006's dull, disappointing West, Williams sounds like a woman with her groove back, mixing blazing steroidal rockers like riveting opener "Real Love" with trademark sultry love ballads like "Circles and X's" and the bluesy, ­gospel-tinged "Tears of Joy." This album may be the most coherent and true demonstration of her capabilities ever captured in the studio; to her credit, she does it without sacrificing that Deep South vocal style that has always been her calling card. Williams's Gulf Coast roots are front and center on Little Honey, which rings as true and real as any work she's ever done. Now 55, Williams has been doing this since she was a bluegrasser at Anderson Fair 30 years ago, and when she sings "Hey, little rock star, is your death wish stronger than you are," we get the idea she's pondered rock stardom's downside long and often. She leaves no doubt she understands the ups and downs of musical life when she shakes the foundations with her album-closing, bone-rattling take onAC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)," which, like every great rock act, leaves us wanting more.

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