ROBIN & LINDA WILLIAMS, THESE OLD DARK HILLS

robin & linda williamsROBIN & LINDA WILLIAMS
THESE OLD DARK HILLS

Redhouse Records
CD 256

The Virginia-based husband-and-wife duo Robin & Linda Williams, best known in recent years for their frequent appearances on the radio show Prairie Home Companion, are masters of contemporary Americana. In their own unique way, they have incorporated elements of rural folk, country, and bluegrass with even more old-time influences like Stephen Foster. But with their stark melodies, provocative lyrics, robust harmonies, and new-age sensibilities, they have a style that’s unmistakable—very much all their own.

This time around, they have called upon another master of modern Americana, veteran Nashville producer Jim Rooney, who has over the years produced John Prine, Iris Dement, and Nanci Griffith, among many others. For this project, the Williamses (who are approaching their fortieth anniversary as a duet team) and Rooney enlisted a small, incredibly tight cadre of A-team bluegrass and acoustic country musicians. These include Todd Phillips on bass, Al Perkinson on resonator guitar and pedal steel, along with Chris Brashear (mandolin) and Jim Watson (harmony vocals)—both long-time members of Robin and Linda’s Fine Band.

The lovely title tune is one of a half-dozen fine tunes herein composed by the Williamses. Other standouts include a soulful cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Lucky Day,” and a rousing a cappella rendition of Will M. Ramsey’s “World Wide Peace.” Yet another bonus is a reverent musical adaptation of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s timeless 1889 poem, “Crossing The Bar,” featuring a low-key Garrison Keillor on harmony vocals. (Red House Records, Inc., P.O. Box 4044, Saint Paul, MN 55104, www.redhouserecords.com.)BA

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