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Lucinda Williams - Car Wheels On A Gravel Road

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Car Wheels On A Gravel Road

Lucinda Williams

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It isn't surprising that Lucinda Williams' level of craft takes time to assemble, but the six-year wait between Sweet Old World and its 1998 follow-up, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, still raised eyebrows. The delay stemmed both from label difficulties and Williams' meticulous perfectionism, the latter reportedly over a too-produced sound and her own vocals. Listening to the record, one can understand why both might have concerned Williams. Car Wheels is far and away her most produced album to date, which is something of a mixed blessing. Its surfaces are clean and contemporary, with something in the timbres of the instruments (especially the drums) sounding extremely typical of a late-'90s major-label roots-rock album. While that might subtly alter the timeless qualities of Williams' writing, there's also no denying that her sound is punchier and livelier. The production also throws Williams' idiosyncratic voice into sharp relief, to the point where it's noticeably separate from the band. As a result, every inflection and slight tonal alteration is captured, and it would hardly be surprising if Williams did obsess over those small details. But whether or not you miss the earthiness of Car Wheels' predecessors, it's ultimately the material that matters, and Williams' songwriting is as captivating as ever. Intentionally or not, the album's common thread seems to be its strongly grounded sense of place -- specifically, the Deep South, conveyed through images and numerous references to specific towns. Many songs are set, in some way, in the middle or aftermath of not-quite-resolved love affairs, as Williams meditates on the complexities of human passion. Even her simplest songs have more going on under the surface than their poetic structures might indicate. In the end, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road is Williams' third straight winner; although she might not be the most prolific songwriter of the '90s, she's certainly one of the most brilliant.
© Steve Huey /TiVo

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Car Wheels On A Gravel Road

Lucinda Williams

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1
Right In Time (Album Version)
00:04:36

Ray Kennedy, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Rick Rubin, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Greg Leisz, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - JIM SCOTT, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - JIM LAUDERDALE, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Lucinda Williams, Producer, Co-Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Buddy Miller, Acoustic Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Twangtrust, Producer - Donald Lindley, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Bitten, Producer, Additional Producer, Recording Engineer, Hammond B3, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Gurf Mortix, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - John Clambotti, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1998 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

2
Car Wheels On A Gravel Road (Album Version)
00:04:44

Rick Rubin, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - JIM SCOTT, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Lucinda Williams, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Co-Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Buddy Miller, Guitar, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Twangtrust, Producer - Donald Lindley, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Bitten, Producer, Additional Producer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gurf Mortix, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - John Clambotti, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1998 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

3
2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten (Album Version)
00:04:42

Charlie Sexton, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Rick Rubin, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - JIM SCOTT, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Lucinda Williams, Producer, Co-Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Twangtrust, Producer - Donald Lindley, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Bitten, Producer, Accordion, Organ, Additional Producer, Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Gurf Mortix, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - John Clambotti, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1998 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

4
Drunken Angel (Album Version)
00:03:20

Rick Rubin, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Johnny Lee Schell, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Earle, Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica, AssociatedPerformer - JIM SCOTT, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - JIM LAUDERDALE, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Lucinda Williams, Producer, Co-Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Twangtrust, Producer - Donald Lindley, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Bitten, Producer, Additional Producer, Recording Engineer, Hammond B3, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Gurf Mortix, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - John Clambotti, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1998 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

5
Concrete And Barbed Wire (Album Version)
00:03:09

Rick Rubin, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Johnny Lee Schell, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Earle, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Greg Leisz, Mandolin, AssociatedPerformer - JIM SCOTT, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Lucinda Williams, Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Co-Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Twangtrust, Producer - Donald Lindley, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Bitten, Producer, Accordion, Additional Producer, Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - John Clambotti, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1998 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

6
Lake Charles (Album Version)
00:05:28

Charlie Sexton, Dobro, AssociatedPerformer - Rick Rubin, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - JIM SCOTT, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - JIM LAUDERDALE, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Lucinda Williams, Producer, Co-Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Buddy Miller, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Twangtrust, Producer - Donald Lindley, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Bitten, Producer, Accordion, Additional Producer, Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - John Clambotti, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1998 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

7
Can't Let Go (Album Version)
00:03:29

Rick Rubin, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Johnny Lee Schell, Guitar, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Randy Weeks, ComposerLyricist - JIM SCOTT, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Lucinda Williams, Producer, Co-Producer, Dobro, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Twangtrust, Producer - Donald Lindley, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Bo Ramsey, Guitar, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Bitten, Producer, Additional Producer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gurf Mortix, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - John Clambotti, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1998 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

8
I Lost It (Album Version)
00:03:31

Charlie Sexton, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Rick Rubin, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Steve Earle, Acoustic Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - JIM SCOTT, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - JIM LAUDERDALE, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Lucinda Williams, Producer, Co-Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Buddy Miller, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Twangtrust, Producer - Donald Lindley, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Bitten, Producer, Accordion, Additional Producer, Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - John Clambotti, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1998 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

9
Metal Firecracker (Album Version)
00:03:30

Ray Kennedy, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Michael Smotherman, Hammond B3, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Earle, Acoustic Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Lucinda Williams, Producer, Co-Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Twangtrust, Producer - Donald Lindley, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Bitten, Producer, Additional Producer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gurf Mortix, Electric Guitar, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - John Clambotti, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1998 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

10
Greenville (Album Version)
00:03:24

Charlie Sexton, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Rick Rubin, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - JIM SCOTT, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Lucinda Williams, Producer, Co-Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Buddy Miller, Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - EMMYLOU HARRIS, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Richard Price, Dobro, AssociatedPerformer - Twangtrust, Producer - Donald Lindley, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Bitten, Producer, Accordion, Additional Producer, Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - John Clambotti, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1998 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

11
Still I Long For Your Kiss (Album Version)
00:04:09

Rick Rubin, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Johnny Lee Schell, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - JIM SCOTT, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Lucinda Williams, Producer, Co-Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Buddy Miller, Acoustic Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Duane Douglas Jarvis, ComposerLyricist - Twangtrust, Producer - Donald Lindley, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Bitten, Producer, Accordion, Additional Producer, Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - John Clambotti, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1998 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

12
Joy (Album Version)
00:04:01

Rick Rubin, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Johnny Lee Schell, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Earle, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - JIM SCOTT, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Lucinda Williams, Producer, Co-Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Twangtrust, Producer - Donald Lindley, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Bo Ramsey, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Bitten, Producer, Additional Producer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Gurf Mortix, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - John Clambotti, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1998 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

13
Jackson (Album Version)
00:03:43

Rick Rubin, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Johnny Lee Schell, Dobro, AssociatedPerformer - Steve Earle, Acoustic Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - JIM SCOTT, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - JIM LAUDERDALE, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer - Lucinda Williams, Producer, Co-Producer, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Twangtrust, Producer - Donald Lindley, Drums, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Roy Bitten, Producer, Accordion, Additional Producer, Recording Engineer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Gurf Mortix, Acoustic Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - John Clambotti, Upright Bass, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 1998 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

Album Description

It isn't surprising that Lucinda Williams' level of craft takes time to assemble, but the six-year wait between Sweet Old World and its 1998 follow-up, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, still raised eyebrows. The delay stemmed both from label difficulties and Williams' meticulous perfectionism, the latter reportedly over a too-produced sound and her own vocals. Listening to the record, one can understand why both might have concerned Williams. Car Wheels is far and away her most produced album to date, which is something of a mixed blessing. Its surfaces are clean and contemporary, with something in the timbres of the instruments (especially the drums) sounding extremely typical of a late-'90s major-label roots-rock album. While that might subtly alter the timeless qualities of Williams' writing, there's also no denying that her sound is punchier and livelier. The production also throws Williams' idiosyncratic voice into sharp relief, to the point where it's noticeably separate from the band. As a result, every inflection and slight tonal alteration is captured, and it would hardly be surprising if Williams did obsess over those small details. But whether or not you miss the earthiness of Car Wheels' predecessors, it's ultimately the material that matters, and Williams' songwriting is as captivating as ever. Intentionally or not, the album's common thread seems to be its strongly grounded sense of place -- specifically, the Deep South, conveyed through images and numerous references to specific towns. Many songs are set, in some way, in the middle or aftermath of not-quite-resolved love affairs, as Williams meditates on the complexities of human passion. Even her simplest songs have more going on under the surface than their poetic structures might indicate. In the end, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road is Williams' third straight winner; although she might not be the most prolific songwriter of the '90s, she's certainly one of the most brilliant.
© Steve Huey /TiVo

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