How sweet this old world must have seemed to Lucinda Williams when, after years of smiles from critics and a few cultish fans, she found widespread success with Car Wheels on a Gravel Road in 1998. Over the years she's racked up 14 Grammy nods (winning thrice) and won the love and respect of her peers (appearing on soundtracks and as guest on albums by artists as diverse as Elvis Costello and M Ward). To know Lucinda is to love her in other words. And her latest, Blessed, finds her in love. The Williams sound - a blues melancholy, a country twang, a folk sensibility, a rock attitude - is intact on this collection, whose deluxe edition features a "kitchen demo" version of the entire LP and eight different covers to choose from. But that's just marketing. And if any artist doesn't need marketing it's Williams. That sound is only one reason to buy the album (Costello might be one, too: his guitar solo on Seeing Black is searing). The main reason is the lyrics, which turn away from the main preoccupation of previous albums (herself) and aim outward, viewing the lives of others and imagining life through others' eyes. The life-affirming title track is exceptional, an homage to selflessness, to compassion and love, and to all those who are good around us.