Blessed [new from Lucinda Williams]

March 1st is not only day one of my favorite month (I’m in Arizona, so that means Spring Training games, a beer festival, and ideal weather), but it’s also release day for Blessed, the great new album from Lucinda Williams.

Lucinda’s 10th studio album has many folks likening it to a return to form of her stellar ’98 album Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. I’ve had a few runs through it, and – as always, it seems – I’ve gravitated to the more slow burning, wistful tracks. “I Don’t Know How You’re Living”, “Born to be Loved”, “Convince Me”…

But the true stunner of a tune that stops me in my tracks is the album finale: “Kiss Like Your Kiss”. This love’s done and gone, Jack, and nothing will ever be the same…

There’ll never be a spring so perfect again
We’ll never see a yellow so rich
The grass will never be quite as green
And there’ll never be a kiss like your kiss

That’s only the first verse. It’s a thing of beauty, and may be one of the best songs I’ve ever heard Lucinda sing (right there with “Blue” for me). This song alone is worth the price of admission.

A version of the song actually appears on an episode of True Blood, and includes Elvis Costello on vocals. You can find this version on True Blood: Music From The HBO® Original Series Volume 2

The Blessed version doesn’t include Costello’s co-vocals, and as much as I admire and respect Elvis, the song rises even higher without him. This is Lucinda’s moment, and Costello only dilutes the exquisiteness of it, in my opinion. Just wait till you hear the Blessed version, that’s all I gotta say.

Blessed is another strong collection from a tried and true original still at the top of her game. Top to bottom, it can’t top Car Wheels, but moments like “Kiss Like Your Kiss” elevate it to a level that’s damn close.