Monday, 10 September 2012

Great Albums 38: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Lucinda Williams, 1998)

Considering Steve Earle described working on this album as the worst recording experience of his life, and the original co-producer walked out during recording, this is a spectacular album.

Coming from a blues/folk background, you'd expect something a bit downbeat from Lucinda Williams' breakthrough LP, and this doesn't disappoint.  It's littered with slices of what used to be called Americana, and I'd say that the slices are definitely intended to wound and cut.  From the opening track, with Loretta Lynn and Hank Williams on the radio and a child being driven away from home, right until the closer, a re-imagining of 'By the time I get to Pheonix', listing all the places the singer won't miss some unnamed lover, there's not a lot of happiness to be found.

But the guitar playing on this is wonderful, the lyrics are perfect little vignettes of loss, longing and - at times - lust, and Lucinda's voice is the best in country music, imo, cracking and breaking like it's about to burst completely. 

Happiness is over-rated, in any case...

Car Wheels on Spotify

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