pasadena WEEKLY
FEBRUARY 27 - MARCH 5, 1998

Devil OF A Dream... but worth the sweat

I first land ears on this prolific duo at the Strawberry Music Festival in 1994. About mid-set they landed into their soaring ballad "Lyin' To The Moon." Maybe it was the intertwined harmonies laden with the full yellow moon beaming down on the high atmosphere, but my heart cracked open like an unsuspecting campfire egg in the hands of Yosemite Sam. From there it was a downward spiral of free-wheeling CD spending to get caught up on what I'd been missing.

Devil Of A Dream, the Williamses' recently released effort, lays it down straight, no chaser. The first cut, the honky-tonk laced "Things I've Learned" explains their classroom dynamic: "learned it in the bedroom, the barroom in a hobo's hard luck tale, in the gray gloom of a back room as the light began to fail." The vocals rise and fall, moving in, out, and around each other like a dervish who stole the stage at a tent revival. On "Five Rooms" they paint a stark ---------- infested picture of a lonely lover who wins the you-get-to-keep-the-house lottery, while "Men With Guns" is a high noon millitia source. Devil finds the duo's honest-as-the-day feel peppered with ------- -, salt, and a pinch of bluesy swing. the Williamses also seemed to have learned that raising the funk-o- meter only serves to highlight the exemplary signature ballads they have come to master.

Beyond the romantic angst, and trips down disillusionment highway, the tunes are ultimately _______ in the familiar blanket of hope and salvation that permeates their body of work.

"Green Summertime" bears the fruit of ------- simplicity. The prayer-like tune yields a gentle wisdom, and mature sense of resignationa and acceptance of the hand you're dealt in life ... that while roots may be transcendent, they are undeniable:

"my dreams do not take wings,

for I'm captive to familiar things ...

though I know them all too well,

and I've heard all they have to tell,

my steps will always walk this ground

to these old friends I am bound"

Par for their congenial course, Robin and Linda Williams have managed to collect quite a crew of new friends along the way, including Holiday Inn-mate Mary Chapin Carpenter, and recording partner Iris Dement. Joining them in the frolic and mayhem of this new CD ------- is --------- fiddler Stuart Duncan; long time Dixie colleague Tim O'Brien on mandolin, fiddle and occasional third part vocal: Fine Group mainstay Kevin Maul (who has just released a dsc of his own titled Toolshed) on dobro; Jim Watson of Red Clay Ramblers fame on bass, and harmony; and Rose Sinclair adding some Cajun spice with her button accordion. Robin and Linda take turns in the vocal spotlight, and share two-part throughout tunes like the Everlys' classic waltz "I Wonder If I Care As Much." This remake oozes soul and exemplifies the album's sparse, tasteful arrangements. Get out your goose-bumps.