Dec. 27, 2002
Robin and Linda Williams
Visions Of Love
Sugar Hill Records
The latest release by Robin and Linda Williams boasts a surefire selling point: the imprimatur of Garrison Keillor, who produced the album and presumably helped shape the duo's uncluttered, old-fashioned and affecting performances. Or maybe he had the good sense to simply stay out of the way.
In any case, most fans of "A Prairie Home Companion," Keillor's NPR program, should have no trouble warming up to the tunes gathered here. They're a sturdy and soulful lot, albeit drawn from sources as disparate as Jimmie Rodgers (a sultry reprise of "Mississippi Delta Blues"), Joe Venuti (a dreamy take on "Wasting My Time, Wasting My Love on You"), Bruce Springsteen (a tender and haunting arrangement of "If I Should Fall Behind") and even the pairing of Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn (who are represented by the honky-tonk classic "After the Fire Is Gone").
The Carter Family also makes an appearance, though indirectly. The melody of "Wildwood Flower" surfaces on the opening track, "I'll Twine 'Mid the Ringlets," a poignant ballad beautifully sung by Linda. And there are salutes to Hank Williams and Merle Haggard, too -- back-to-back performances of "The Blues Come Around" and "Hungry Eyes" that suit Robin's unvarnished tenor and Linda's expressive soprano, to say nothing of their warm harmonies. Add to this a series of string-woven arrangements featuring fiddler-mandolinist Peter Ostroushko and you have a pretty good idea of what drew Keillor to the duo's music in the first place.
-- Mike Joyce
Appearing Friday at the Ram's Head Tavern and Saturday at the Birchmere. ¥ To hear a free Sound Bite from Robin and Linda Williams, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8125. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)
© 2002 The Washington Post Company