Thursday, November 25, 2010

November 25: Lucinda Williams, "Right In Time"

Artist: Lucinda Williams
Song: "Right In Time"
Album: Car Wheels On A Gravel Road
Year: 1998

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Though there are many consistencies that can be seen throughout the overall history of recorded music, one of the most important lies in the fact that, while it often takes a great deal of time, the truly talented and unique artists always find a way to make themselves known to the general public.  Many times, even though an artist has been making brilliant music for years, it takes so-called critics and the music loving public as a whole a bit longer to fully realize the greatness in the artist in question.  Granted, in at least one case, one cannot fully "blame" the general public, as the artist in question released albums so infrequently, and on smaller labels, that it certainly did not help their situation.  However, at the end of the day, one simply cannot deny the beauty and genius that lives within the music of Lucinda Williams.  Over the course of nearly twenty years, she released just five albums, and while they were all phenomenal, the labels could not promote them properly, and the time in between kept Williams in an odd cult-obscurity.  Then, in 1998, she released an album that was nothing short of a masterpiece in the form of her Grammy winning record, Car Wheels On A Gravel Road.  Filled with some of the most distinctive folk-rock-country sounds ever recorded, there was no way to deny her spot as one of the most talented musicians in history, and this fantastic sound, as well as her unparalleled abilities as a songwriter can be summed up in the albums' lead track, "Right In Time."

As soon as "Right In Time" begins, the wide range of stylistic influences become completely obvious, as one can clearly hear the "twang" of country music, the deep connection of folk, as well as traces of blues.  The sound is all wrapped in an arrangement that has an unquestionably "poppy" feel, and the fact that Lucinda Williams is able to take so many genres and blend them into something that appeals to every audience is one of the main reasons why she is such a brilliant artist.  Though it has been done countless times over the decades, the combination of acoustic and electric guitars that are found on "Right In Time" have a presence and progression that place them into a category all their own.  Perfectly mirroring the words that follow, the guitars have a very warm and welcoming feel to them, and the way in which they seem to sway across the track makes them almost seductive in a way never presented elsewhere.  Drummer Donald Lindley furthers this sense of movement and gives the song a strong, steady pace, and it is also within his playing that much of the songs' "rock" feel lives.  The band are clearly in sync with one another, as even when the song grows louder, the intimate mood is never lost, and "Right In Time" proves that when done correctly, such is possible.  This ability to keep the mood intact, as well as the full, superbly arrangement musical progressions made it largely impossible for the world NOT to take notice, and it is one of the reasons "Right In Time" remains fresh and exciting more than a decade later.

While the music on all of Lucinda Williams' songs is consistently fantastic, there are truly no other artists in history that have a similar voice, and it is her tone, as well as her heavy emotions that push the song to a status far beyond that of her peers.  Few artists in history have displayed a voice that is as honest and untouched as that of Williams, and this makes her singing completely distinctive, and it is often the most mesmerizing aspect of her songs.  Able to easily work the entire vocal range, Williams captures more emotion than most, and it is nothing short of stunning on "Right In Time" when she quickly jumps from what is almost a low growl to a glorious, higher vocal explosion.  This also enables Williams to bring a great deal of intimacy to her songs, and one would be hard pressed to find a song that better defines this word in its entirely than one finds on "Right In Time."  Though many artists have tried, none have ever reached the same level of closeness and yearning that Williams does on "Right In Time."  In both how she sings, as well as what she is singing, the song might normally border on risqué, but there is such a feeling of absolute honesty and beauty, that is becomes more a thing of art than anything else.  Even in the songs' final verse, when Williams takes out any subtleties, there is a sense of raw emotion and splendor that leaves the listener in complete awe.  This sense of honesty, and perfection in execution is yet another reason why one cannot deny the overall impact of Lucinda Williams and "Right In Time."

Truth be told, there are virtually no other moments anywhere in music history that are as truly honest and intimate as one can find on "Right In Time."  The lyrics and singing are so sensual and raw that there are times when one almost feels like a voyeur whilst listening to the song.  As Williams shifts the scene from room to room, the tension builds, and the song was even once labeled as a "masturbation moaner."  Yet even with what one might see as a negative label, there is simply no getting around the sheer beauty that one finds on "Right In Time," and one can easily see it as the product of decades of tireless perfectionism from Williams herself.  The musical arrangement gives the song a swing and a tone that are able to build and release the overall tension at will, and this serves as a testament to the amazing talent of each of the musicians on the track.  The fact that one can picture the scene taking place in a quite country cabin as easily as one can picture it in a loud city apartment displays the genius of Williams as a writer, as her words are so simple, yet profound, that it should not be surprising that many point to her as one of the most talented writers in music history.  Fusing together all of her musical roots, the way in which her songs dance between country, blues, folk, and rock makes them completely unique, and one can find nothing short of sheer musical beauty and absolute perfection in the form of Lucinda Williams' 1998 song, "Right In Time."

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