http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/9f37c66fe6c5d4212e86a67456616ab9b6684aeb.jpg Sweet Old World

Lucinda Williams

Sweet Old World

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 3.5 0
January 29, 1997

Listening to Lucinda Williams's Sweet Old World, her first album in four years, you have to wonder how many voices she abandoned — country, rock, blues, gospel — on the way to achieving this one, which embodies and transcends them all. Sweet Old World begins with the near-pop single "Six Blocks Away," the tale of a poet whose love is just out of reach. Duane Jarvis's and Gurf Morlix's guitars jangle through the mix, though Williams's singing colors every song with a rural Louisiana rawness. The next track, "Something About What Happens When We Talk," is a paean to a platonic relationship — that is, until the end, when she sings, "Well, I can't stay around 'cause I'm going back South/But all I regret now is I never kissed your mouth." Morlix's delicate lead and slide fills decorate the tune (and the album) sparingly.

But Sweet Old World is a mixed bag. While the love songs express themselves as carnal confession — such as "Hot Blood," in which Williams quivers when she hits the high notes — others ("Pineola," "Sweet Old World") are soaked in tragedy. Williams writes and sings them without irony. She conveys the loneliness of her protagonists not as an observer but as a participant in their circumstances. "He Never Got Enough Love" attains what Suzanne Vega's "Luka" strove for. Even the cover of Nick Drake's "Which Will" that closes the album underlines her inability to remain separate from her characters.

Sweet Old World will go a long way toward establishing Lucinda Williams as one of popular music's treasures. In her voice, we can hear the sound of desire itself.

Album Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Whoomp! (There It Is)”

    Tag Team | 1993

    Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

    More Song Stories entries »