Lucinda Williams – Car Wheels On A Gravel Road

Lucinda Williams - Car Wheels On A Gravel Road

Label: Polygram

There is something so pure and soulful about Lucinda Williams that despite the variety of categorizations she will inevitably receive with every new album, her music will remain a justifiably hard to reconcile fusion of folk, country, blues and rock music. On her first album in over five years Williams has succeeded in spinning a genuine yarn of beautiful songs and stories.

On “Car Wheels On A Gravel Road” Williams has created a sound that exists like a cross between Emmylou Harris, circa “Wrecking Ball,” and Bruce Springsteen, circa “Born To Run.” There is both a catchiness and a reassuring sense of genuine Americana that tends to define each of the thirteen songs on the album. Like Springsteen and Harris, Lucinda Williams’ songs reek of an intense but carefree blend of fiction and reality. Her vocals alternate between bright and ethereal and gruff and country, with the songs that blend country guitar melodies in a unique and timeless manner. For “Car Wheels on A Gravel Road” she was able to recruit everyone from Steve Earle to Charlie Sexton to contribute instrumental pieces.

Having spent much of her life traveling throughout the country, her music breathes a sense of movement and worldliness. On songs like “Greenville,” “Jackson”, and others she refers to specific places where things “have happened.” These happenings have been become memories activated, at times, by single words. On “Lake Charles” she captures entire memories in just a few words: “We used to drive / thru Lafayette and Baton Rouge / In a yellow El Camino / Listening to Howlin Wolf / he used to like to stop in Lake George / ‘Cause that’s the place he liked the best.”

For those of you turned off by the concept of country music, Lucinda Williams treats the genre as deftly as Tennessee Williams did Southern tragedy and Woody Allen does comedy. She is both an elegant lyricist and an inspiring vocalist. Although this comparison may seem a bit exaggerated, every art form deserves a few revolutionaries. Lucinda Williams has released only five albums in nearly twenty years, but they are all brilliant, in a way that few records ever are.

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Buffalo 66

Buffalo 66
Director : Vincent Gallo
With : Vincent Gallo, Christina Ricci, Angelica Huston

Without a shadow of a doubt, Vincent Gallo has proven himself to be one of the coolest, most versatile celebrities to emerge in quite some time. After fleeing from Buffalo as a teenager to settle in New York, Gallo has been a part of just about every New York cultural scene of any relevance. He once played in a band with Jean-Paul Basquiat, in addition to being a painter, an actor, a Calvin Klein model and now the writer, director and star of one of the year’s best films.

“Buffalo 66″ is the semi-autobiographical tale about a loser guy named Billy Brown recently released from prison, after 5 years, for admitting to a crime that he didn’t commit. It would be hard to imagine anyone other than Gallo playing Billy and still ending up with the same film. Gallo’s gaunt face, intensely hollow eyes, and rail-thin physique make his down-and-out character seem so sympathetic. Despite some terrible qualities, you can’t help rooting for him to catch even one small break.
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High Art

High Art

Director : Anna Cholodenko
With : Ally Sheedy, Radha Mitchell

Like most drug-art oriented films, (think “Drugstore Cowboy” “Sweet Nothing” “Sid & Nancy” “Gridlock’d”) “High Art” isn’t what you’d call a lighthearted film, but it is both a bold and entertaining first feature. It’s a movie that manages to capture both the fickle workings of the New York art world and the desperate gloom and lethargy of heroin culture. The film follows a once famous photographer named Lucy Berliner (Ally Sheedy) and a young ambitious photo editor named Syd (Radha Mitchell) who works at the ultra-hip photo magazine called Frame, into what becomes one of the more intense relationships of the year. What follows is a heady exploration of sex, drugs and the price of celebrity.

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Martin Dressler by Steven Millhauser

Martin Dressler by Steven Millhauser

Steven Millhauser is a contemporary American author who writes and sees through wonderfully Dickensian eyes. His stories are filled with characters whose faces and voices become incredibly distinctive within the first few pages. With “Martin Dressler,” Millhauser follows the life and dreams of an ambitious child growing into adulthood in America at the turn of the century.

We first meet Martin Dressler in the early 1890’s as a child helping his father run a small cigar store in Manhattan. At this time New York was still a city filled with pastoral spaces, undeveloped lots, and infinite possibilities for anyone with a dream and the courage to make it real. At the age of 14 Martin leaves his father’s store to go work at a fancy hotel as a bellboy. Eventually he works himself up to assistant manager and is being groomed to eventually become the manager. But Martin’s dreams are bigger and more entrepreneurial, first opening a cigar store in the hotel lobby and then a franchise of profitable upscale lunchrooms throughout the city and Brooklyn. But it is not the money that drives him, rather it is the desire to break the mold.
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