Freeman and Williams

Freeman and WilliamsFREEMAN AND WILLIAMS
Mountain Roads Recordings
MRR-1014

Three veterans of the traditional bluegrass circuit comprise this new configuration and each of them, Johnny and Jeanette Williams and Scott Freeman, takes a turn at the lead vocals.

As might be expected, Jeanette dominates the singing, handling seven of the thirteen tracks. She’s at her best on the freewheeling “Wrong Road Again,” the singsong of “Halley Came To Jackson,” the heartfelt gospel of “I Surrender All” and “My Reward” and most especially on the swingy and bluesy “Too Late.” The latter lets her slip into the silky, country chanteuse style that works so well for her, and it is arguably the recording’s best track, though a strong case could be made for “Halley…” and its engaging tale of a person remembering the comet’s visit in both 1910 and 1986.

Johnny Williams takes the lead on four, including the traditional and blues-tinged “Don’t Think I’ll Cry,” and the old-time fiddle tune “June Apple,” to which he added new lyrics. Freeman, whose fiddle and mandolin (often over dubbed for variety) provide almost all of the instrumental soloing, sings two, including his original, “In Half The Time.”

The harmony singing is good, with a fair bit of mixing and matching of parts from track to track for a nice change of textures. The lead instrumental work is direct and to the point, being neither overly showy nor far from the melody. “June Apple” is about as wild as it gets, and there Freeman’s work is just honest, salt-of-the-earth, old-time fiddling.

This recording, however, could have used a few additional memorable tracks. As it stands, there are the five Jeanette Williams tracks mentioned above and the lively readings of “June Apple” and “Don’t Think…” Had they included two or three more strong tracks, their overall pleasant recording would have risen several notches above. (Mountain Roads Recordings, 3192 Hwy. 421, Bristol, TN 37620, www.mountainroadsrecordings.com.)BW

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