Lucinda Williams

Lucinda Williams

Car Wheels on a Gravel Road

Mercury

Six years in the making, a bunch of different labels, and about a dozen different re-recordings with two separate production teams (Twangtrust-Steve Earle and Ray Kennedy on “basic tracks” and Roy Brittan on “additional recording”), after all that you’d expect a classic, right? Well, it ain’t. At it’s best, such as on “Concrete and Barbed Wire” or the steamy “Right in Time,” Williams is the best female country/blues singer-songwriter going. The rest of the record sounds overproduced, too much “stuff” crammed onto songs that can’t support the weight. Surprisingly, considering the talent involved — folks like Steve Earle, Buddy Miller, and Jim Lauderdale among many others — the record at times just plain sounds bad. Her previous album, Sweet Old World showcased her voice, which is an instrument that could melt rocks with its sullen heat. This record buries it under trebly guitars and arena-rock drums.

Live, this material supposedly rocks. Maybe next time Lucinda will release a live album, something she can’t worry to death.

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