Lucinda Williams recently told The Wall Street Journal that she relates to one of her favorite singer-songwriters, Judy Collins, for being caught in "the proverbial crack between country and rock." Like her folk-singing hero, Williams exists in a country-soul-blues purgatory, but plenty of fans exist there with her. This year's West, her first studio album in four years, has been embraced by critics and alt-country lovers as her best offering since 1998's Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. The new song "Are You Alright?" sets the tone for the gut-wrenching album, which Williams wrote after a breakup and the death of her mother. Williams' tour offers a direct experience of raw poetry, delivered in a manner not fit for the squeamish.