Lucinda Williams’ fifth album, released in the summer of 1998, not only cemented the artist as a bonafide songwriting juggernaut, but it solidified her place among America’s best storytellers. “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” would go on to be named The Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop (critics) Album of the Year, and to date it is among Rolling Stone’s top 500 albums of all time. And for good reason. Williams bemoans (and even moans) about love and loss in songs like “Right In Time,” Lake Charles” and “Can’t Let Go.” And she brilliantly illustrates pain in the title track and also on tunes like “Drunken Angel,” “Concrete and Barbed Wire” and more. Williams also captures the Deep South about as good anybody before or since. And because of that, this album is truly “2 Kool 2 Be 4-Gotten.”

You can listen to Car Wheels on a Gravel Road by Lucinda Williams on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal, YouTube, and Amazon, although it’s probably best on vinyl.

 

It’s only natural that Matt & Matt kick off Season 4 of Finest Worksongs with a non-charting song of covers by a country artist, right? But Emmylou Harris’ 1995 album “Wrecking Ball” deserves any and all recognition. It was a vast departure for the seasoned country songstress; that’s gonna happen when you partner with Daniel Lanois. “Wrecking Ball” — which includes collaborations with Neil Young,  Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Gillian Welch and others, did for Emmylou what Johnny Cash’s “American Recordings” did for the Man In Black: it rejuvenated a career and opened a whole new audience to the splendor of one of music’s all-time greats.

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You can buy or stream Wrecking Ball by Emmylou Harris online at iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and Amazon.