Essence - Lucinda Williams
Essence Image

Universal acclaim - based on 11 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 15 Ratings

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  • Summary: Although Lucinda Williams' recording career began in 1979, this is just her sixth full-length release, following 1998's well-received 'Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.' 'Essence' features 11 new trackes penned by Williams and co-produced by Charlie Sexton and Bo Ramsey.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. 100
    It's a nervy progression, almost necessarily uneven because of the risks it takes, balancing a grace that soars toward aching perfection with an intimacy that elicits a squirmy discomfort.
  2. 90
    There's no easy niche in which you can place this new statement: like Dylan's Time Out Of Mind, it ventures into a doomy, mythological area, where the directions are muddied and the heartbreak is total. [Jul 2001, p.98]
  3. Her folkiest, gentlest album, Essence is a steamy slow-crawl... [8 June 2001, p.74]
  4. 80
    As halting, spare, and downbeat as its predecessor was giddy, verbose, and, okay, downbeat. [Jul 2001, p.125]
  5. By leaving her images blurry and her singing uncomplicated, Williams has found a way to capture the sound she hears in her head and obsesses over the recording process to find.
  6. This mainstream update to the unvarnished directness of Sweet Old World starts slow and flirts with blandness but sparks to life about halfway through.
  7. Essence finds Williams returning to the willful intimacy of her earliest records. Laid-back, rock-ish and small in scale, Essence never achieves grandeur but won't particularly alienate the fan for whom her wonders small and large are equally magical.

See all 11 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 10
  2. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. Russ
    Aug 14, 2007
    Gotta admit that when I first heard this album I thought it was just ok. But over the years I've found myself returning to it for repeated listens. Best played when feeling mellow on those quiet introspective moments. Definitely not a party album! These songs just have so much feeling that you can't help but be captured by them. now one of my alltime favorites. To hear these songs with more of a hard-edge, get Live At the Fillmore. Expand
  2. KeithB.
    Nov 11, 2001
    It doesn't get any better than this. The most raw, unaffected, sensual and heartbreaking music I've heard in a very long time. It's been haunting me day and night since I first listened to it. Expand
  3. CherylH
    Apr 5, 2004
    Williams' grief, almost beyond bearing, simmers and aches beneath every tune she sings, sighs, whispers in that Delta drawl. It reaches an absolute boil in the title cut 'Essence', the spiritual yearning in 'Get Right with God', and the heartbreaking, poignant closer, 'Broken Butterflies'. This was the fourth Williams CD I bought, it is still the first one I listen to every night. This is some of the best songwriting you will ever hear. Expand
  4. rkid
    Oct 19, 2001
    It is easier to like after each additional listening. Not as good as 'Car Wheels' but that's not the point. She is the best of this genre around and anything after 'Car Wheels' is going to be unfairly judged. I love this cd to death anyway. Seein her live soon-can't wait. Expand
  5. BrandonS
    Feb 3, 2005
    A rare predominantly slow album that never gets boring. Earthy yet ethereal. Who besides Lucinda, Emmylou, and Patty Griffin can pull this off?
  6. MikeT.
    Jul 11, 2001
    This album gets more disappointing every time I play it. I keep waiting for something to happen in these predictable, claustrophobic songs, but nothing ever does. "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road" this ain't, believe me. Expand
  7. BrianM
    Mar 2, 2006
    A gut wrenching torturous record that will make many wonder why music is in their lives at all. For the liife of me, I can't figure out why this music is in anyones life. One thing is clear, this music will encourage individuals to obstain from listening to music for long periods of time. Fundamentally, this is a waste of music from an otherwise gifted singer songwriter. Expand

See all 10 User Reviews