There are Lucinda Williams records that answer the question: What if Sylvia Plath had been born in the south with a knack for songwriting? Little Honey is not one of them. Beyond all the usual good stuff gravelly blues guitars, distinctive vocals and a studious avoidance of cliché Williams' ninth album finds her (mostly) playful and at peace. The joy of making music is her subject on Real Love, though it doesn't come off like one of those novels about writing a novel. (Williams isn't postmodern; she's pre-modern.) There's also a clowning-around duet with Elvis Costello and a few songs where the mood gets less sunny, but then that's life, which is all she aspires to cover.