Lucinda Williams - Car Wheels On A Gravel Road
Release Date: October 4, 2006
Scores of critics have already hailed Lucinda Williams’ 1998 Grammy winning effort Car Wheels On A Gravel Road as one of the greatest albums of all time. Needless to say, it’s a masterwork of the alt-country (screw it, let’s just call it rock) genre. Listening to the recently released remaster, it’s easy to see why. What Car Wheels does better than the vast majority of similar albums is capture authentically a sense of place. Whether it’s in the details of the rural poetry that comprises much of the album’s story-songs, or the unmistakable catch in Williams’ voice that heralds her as a narrator who has clearly lived through what she sings, the entire album is like a journey to the Deep South - with all the heartbreak, wonder and comfort that comes with it.
A riveting one-woman show, Williams effortlessly becomes her character, be it the defeated slur of Drunken Angel or the intense retaliation of Joy. Of course, it helps that the thirteen roots-based songs that comprise Car Wheels are written so well that they could have been successful in any genre. Jack White could learn a thing from the riveting blues of Can’t Let It Go, while the title track quickly becomes a rural hymn worthy of sing-along status. Eight years later, Car Wheels On A Gravel Road still stands out from the pack.
The album is repackaged as a double-disc set, one disc including the original album remastered with three bonus tracks, the second disc capturing a stripped down 1998 live performance. Although the album was nearly perfect before, these added features act as a great supplement. The bonus tracks are up to the same level as the original thirteen and the live recording offers a glimpse at a rawer, more explosive Williams.
Entire Package: A