Lucinda Williams: Car Wheels on a Gravel Road



Because they are so few and far between, Lucinda Williams records become larger-than-life events. Only her fifth full-length album in a recording career that began 20 years ago with the Folkways LPs Ramblin' and Happy Woman Blues, the delay-plagued Car Wheels on a Gravel Road finally arrived six years after the acclaimed and heart-wrenching Sweet Old World, and a full decade after the now-classic Lucinda Williams (reissued last summer by Koch). The wait was well worth it, not just for fans of the Louisiana-bred singer-songwriter with the aching drawl of a voice, but for anyone who relishes chiming, Byrds-influenced but hard-edged folk-rock and is touched by bittersweet, plainspoken lyrics that cut to the emotional quick. As both a writer and a singer, on such songs as "Right in Time," "Still I Long for Your Kiss," and "Drunken Angel," Williams is explicitly lustful, painfully soul-baring, and profoundly compassionate, and the tensile twang of her voice makes all those qualities resonate directly from her heart to yours.