Williams, 58, has always been able to turn a few repeated notes into memorable riffs, and even mundane observations – such as “Mama believed in the Pentecost. She got the preacher to say some words” from the suicide chronicle “Pineola” – sound absolutely profound when she drawls them. And nobody has ever been more at home with misery than Williams. Williams, backed by a three-piece rock outfit, reprised “Metal Firecracker,” a musically buoyant yet utterly depressing gem about trying to walk away from a relationship with some pride, with a level of resignation familiar only to those who’ve been dumped a lot: “All I ask is don’t tell anybody the secrets that I told you,” she sang over and over.
With guitarist Val McCallum stomping on his tremolo pedal, her reworking of the drug-love anthem “Essence,” ending with a long blues-rock jam, made addiction seem both scary and desirable. Drummer Butch Norton was pounding his kit so hard on the 2007 dirge, “Unsuffer Me,” his sticks shattered as if hit by an inside fastball.