Glenn Dixon’s thoughtful review of the recent Gillian Welch/David Rawlings Birchmere show (“Reverence Due,” 10/16) was completely undermined by his gratuitous, mean-spirited slamming of Lucinda Williams’ new recording. On what basis can Dixon credibly classify Williams, a Louisiana native, as a fraud for singing about “driving thru Lafayette and Baton Rouge” in a Southern drawl? How are Williams’ odes to growing up in the South less authentic than the Appalachian folk aesthetic of Welch, who grew up in Los Angeles and attended the Berklee School of Music?
Granted, Welch infuses her traditional musical settings with a modern lyrical sensibility, and in so doing probably pushes the roots envelope more than Williams. But Welch is also mining a pretty limited genre and, accordingly, her songs have very little sonic variety. Williams, on the other hand, is an iconoclastic folk and country rocker, who incorporates different elements of American roots music in her songs. This difference is ignored entirely by Dixon.
I’ll admit that Williams’ quirky voice is an acquired taste, but Dixon’s statement that her new album is the worst he’s heard all year is simply not believable. Music critics’ universal praise for the album is based on the fact that Williams has come up with a great batch of well-written and well-played songs that beats the crap out of 99 percent of what is produced in Nashville. Comparing Welch’s and Williams’ music is like comparing apples and oranges. In this context, Dixon’s rantings stick out like an Eddie Van Halen lick dropped in the middle of one of David Rawlings’ guitar solos.
Glen Echo, Md.
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