Lucinda Williams at 9:30 Club

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For two years now, I’ve been telling anyone who’d listen that out of 100-odd shows I’ve seen at 9:30 Club, Lucinda Williams’s set two years ago was the best I’d ever seen there. One song she’d have you practically weeping, and the next she’d have you screaming and stomping to a roots rock jam.

Tuesday’s show wasn’t quite up to that level, but was still an outrageously strong performance–especially from a 58-year-old woman who seemed to be having a bad day and still needs to glance at a binder lest she forget her own lyrics.

Nearly half the material was from her new disc, Blessed, the second “happy” disc of hers since put out the ultra-bleak (and nearly perfect) West and then got married. High points: the lead track “Buttercup,” the country rock of “Seeing Black” and the dirge-y blues of “Born to Be Loved,” which stands as something of a companion piece to West‘s ode to lust, “Unsuffer Me.”

Like her past efforts, most of the new songs are built on not much more (and sometimes less) than three chords, which come alive thanks to her verse after verse of often heart-wrenching poetry. Well, that and her crack band. Her guitar player, Val McCallum, is one of the best country-rock players I’ve seen, and, if I may be so bold, Butch Norton may–just may–hit the drums harder than Billy Saul McCoy.

Today’s review in the Post compares her songwriting style to Dylan’s. I’d go so far as to say that were she more prolific (only 10 albums in 30 years) she might be able to lay claim to the mantle of “the Female Dylan.”

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