Issue Three - Spring 1998
Robin and Linda Williams
Devil Of A Dream
Sugar Hill Records
Robin and Linda really do keep getting better with age. This DEVIL OF A DREAM is even better than their previous release which was certainly their best recording ever. Theirs is a folk blend which doesn't mind crossing into bluegrass and country to stretch posat sure sigh of writers who have become so comfortable with all the genres that any boundries get climinated unconsciously. That's also when performers start making great music.
Be aware - one must have a good liking for all three genres (folk, bluegrass, and country) to delve into the sound of Robin and Linda Williams. They do not dilute their work to make it more accessible to a wider audience. That's not to imply it's not pleasant and easy to like, but someone who likes their music radio-friendly might find the Williams' too authentic to fit that mold. Banjos drive songs; dobros play lead sections; mandolins, fiddles and acoustic guitars appear everywhere. There isn't a hint of popular vocal stylings in their work; Linda sings like any traditional singer with perhaps a little less twang but with the same purity of style. Robin could be a country singer from any generation, and when they harmonize, as they do often, it sounds like a fine country duo from at least thirty years ago.
Yet for all of that authenticity, they make very listener friendly music. One doesn't have to be a lover of old-timey music to appreciate and like what they do. Most of their music has a fun, full rhythm to it, and they sing and play their songs with such joy and obvious plessure in it that it's hard not to like what they're doing. It may be traditional-sounding music, but it's played with contemporary energy, not as some homage to the past but with a confidence in the music's validity in today's world. In fact they even take their traditional sound into the headlines to ponderr the suicidal performer (from this and previous generations) and whether that suicidal tendency is the mark of "The Genius." Their conclusion seems to negate thtat conception, as one might assume from two performers who have enjoyed a long ride with the same music that supposedly burdens the "genius" who finds his musical gift too much to shoulder.
The sound on DEVIL OF A DREAM is clean, energetic, and sincere. The songs are superb, well built items meant to last a lifetime and beyond. The whole thing works, from the Magritte-style cover photograph to the layering of the vocals throughout.
Many moons ago, probably not long after Robin and Linda became a married duo, I bought one of their recordings. It left me lukewarm to the point that I never followed up on them until last year's recording. I was amazed at the difference and how their sound had coalesced. This DEVIL OF A DREAM further verifies that their persistence has paid off. They have used a couple of decades(plus) of touring to find what truly pleases them, and they've learned how to write matertial every bit as good as the classic songs they used to cover. And that pleasure in what they do almost steps out in person from this recording like some devil of a dream.