Rhythm & Roots Fest Countdown: Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams has sung to us about the dude who took away her joy, and she’s sung to us about the dude who brought it back. “I found the love I was looking for/it’s a real love,” she growls on the start Little Honey, her underappreciated 2008 classic. With Lu, rock ‘n’ roll can get uncomfortable, thank god. She puts her heart on the line every time she takes the stage, jabbing that wounded voice into ass-kickers such as “Real Live Bleeding Fingers and Broken Guitar Strings,” heart-breakers like “East Side of Town,” and tear-jerkers such as “Are You Alright.” Even in her occasional melodramatic moments she delivers an emotional essence that creates those goose pimples we’re all looking when listening to music.

Then of course there’s her writing chops. I recently heard Andy Friedman roll through her “Lonely Girls” and couldn’t stop visualizing Lu sitting at the kitchen table shaving away every unnecessary syllable until she shaped the tune to deliver the most forlorn impact possible. Repetition is her ally. The more she mulls over a phrase the more weight it gathers. And when a particular flow of words comes crashing down on a chorus or refrain (give it up for “Those Three Days”), you know you’re in the hands of a key American songwriter. She hits on Saturday.

The Rhythm & Roots Fest takes place at Ninigret Park in Charlestown, RI, Sept 2-4.

Performers include Donna the Buffalo, Tajj Mahal, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-Chas, Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin with the Guilty Ones, the David Grisman Sextet, and lots more.

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