Sing Out!
Summer 1996

"Sugar for Sugar"

Sugar Hill 1052

How do they do it? After more than 20 years of making great music, Robin and Linda Williams keep sounding and writing better and better. Pardon the pun, but this recording is sweet, sweet music. They've backed off from past produced efforts and sweetened these dozen songs with just the right amount of mostly acoustic country flavor. Their "Fine Group" with whom they tour Kevin Maul, resonator and Hawaiian guitar, and Jim Watson, bass - play on most of the tracks. There's also fiddle and light percussion, and a couple of harmony vocals by Mary Chapin Carpenter. Robin adds his own great guitar picking, and Linda hers on guitar and banjo.

The irony of the album title is that Robin and Linda don't aim for sweet harmonies like most duets. Not that they don't harmonize impressively, it's just that there's always a bit of grit and an energetic edge to all the vocals. On the upbeat songs, that edge turns to flat-out high voltage power. I dare you to sit still through this recording. You can tie your feet to a chair and by the third track, "Border Bound," you'll be rocking that chair around the room.

The Williamses co-authored seven of these songs with longtime collaborator Jerome Clark. They also wrote four on their own and do a beautiful cover of Greg Brown's "The Cheapest Kind." Robin and Linda delve into the heart of a song, bringing light and force to the arteries of Iyrics and veins of melody. This disc pulses with brilliant songs, from the light frolicking "Border Bound" and "Traffic Light" to the darkly ominous "The Brimming Glass" about the descent into alcoholism. In between there's the love song with a smile, "Together All Alone," about being snowed in together, and the paean to old-time gospel singing, "High Atmosphere." They also include political-social commentary, humorously, in."Traffic Light" about a useless traffic signal installed at a now defunct strip mall, and the more sarcastic "Honky Tonk Nation." The mystical, haunting "Edge Of The World" concludes this always-interesting musical journey.

If you only buy a few recordings this year, this should be one of them. This is real music in every positive sense of the word.

Rich Warren

(c)1996 Sing Out! Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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