Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Eight is more than enough

We remain devout supporters of the record shop, but in the case of Lucinda Williams' new album Blessed we recommend buying online where you don't have to be confronted by the choice of eight covers. 

By Mike Tierney

So I swing by my record store, which has a listening post for new releases, and punch up Lucinda Williams' latest effort, Blessed. The first few cuts are decent but, in typical Williams-ese, as sleepy as the small southern towns she evokes in her music.

Then comes "Seeing Black," a sloppy, brilliant balls-to-the-wall number on which Lucinda rocks like she never has before. (With help, I later discover, from Elvis Costello on guitar.) Too many artists ease off the accelerator as they age. Here, Williams, 58, lets her drummer cut loose and aims grinding guitars at us from all directions.

You go, girl.

I proceed to the CD bin, only to meet with confusion. A deluxe CD set of Blessed offers a second disc that is a replica of the first, except that the songs are demos record "at the kitchen table."

Then I notice Blessed comes in eight different covers, each depicting a different character.

Which do I buy? Will the demo disappoint, or will it illuminate? Which cover best fits the musical mood?

So I leave, overwhelmed by the choices. In this era of recorded music, it is good, I suppose, that artists can provide multiple choices, but there is a downside.

It is also good that I can Google the song and listen to it on my laptop. For Lucinda's sake, I hope I don't burn out on "Seeing Black" before I contribute $14, the price of the CD, to the cause.

Mike Tierney knows a winner when he hears one, so we're confident our Atlanta contributor will fall headphones-over-heels for Blessed's "Buttercup" after a few listens.

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