Lucinda Williams

For the better part of the last decade, many Lucinda Williams fans have wondered whether her decision to ditch her native South for Los Angeles and eventually get married was adversely impacting her creative output. While records like West and Little Honey were by no means bad, they suggested that she'd veered far from the gravel road, and no longer had reason to cry. In short, Williams seemed too content—which was great for Williams, but a real bummer for devotees whose loyalty hinged on the ability to relate to her chronic heartbreak. With this year's Blessed, however, Williams invites these wayward fans back home with her most lyrically and melodically dynamic album since 2003's World Without Tears. It allows listeners to feel good for the fact that she's finally found security without shortchanging the suffering it took to get there, and dispels any skepticism that Williams has lost a handle on what's made her the most compelling American songwriter of the last quarter-century. With Jesse Sykes and Phil Wandscher. MIKE SEELY

Wed., June 29, 6 p.m., 2011

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