Robin and Linda Williams
Visions Of Love
Sugar Hill Records
The Williams sing America's music better than anyone. During their years of appearances with Garrison Keillor on Prairie Home Companion and their own touring, they have brought harmonic magic to everything from folk to country to blues to swing to parlor songs. Their seven successful releases in the last twelve years combine songs from Americana with songs they have written.
Visions of Love, produced by Keillor, presents thirteen covers with spare accompaniment, and it digs even deeper into the soul of American music. The range of material includes a fifties Loretta Lynn/Conway Twitty duet ("After the Fire is Gone"), Joe Venuti's "Wasting My Time, Wasting My Love on You," and Bruce Springteen's "If I Should Fall Behind." Though Robin has some terrific vocals herre, especially on Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man" and "The Blues come Around," it's really Linda's album.
The CD opens with an all verses intact version of "Wildwood Flower" with a lover's mix of anger and betrayal sentient in Linda's voice. Merle Haggard's haunting "Humgry Eyes" is similarly powerful, but the highlight is the WWI parlor song "Keep the Home Fires Burning." Williams' masterful rendition transcends nostalgic jingoism, cutting straight to the deep heart's core of loss and faith in wartime, all with an economy of vocal ornamentation and quiet piano accompaniment. It leaves my eyes wet for the right reasons. It's like the men in the White House to hear this performance. If we have any two voices better than the Williams at rendering Americana music, I haven't heard them, and this is their masterpiece.
__ Bill Compton