The husband-wife team of Robin & Linda Williams are perhaps best known for their long association with fabulist Garrison Keillor and his radio show The Prairie Home Companion, where they first performed 'way back in 1976. The Williamses have also recorded numerous albums, with a finely-honed mix of folk, bluegrass and traditional music. Here's a quick look at their work...
Robin & Linda Williams "Harmony" (June Appal, 1981) (LP)
Robin & Linda Williams "Close As We Can Get" (Flying Fish, 1984)
Robin & Linda Williams "Nine 'Til Midnight" (Flying Fish, 1985)
Robin & Linda Williams "All Broken Hearts Are The Same" (Sugar Hill, 1988)
Robin & Linda Williams "Rhythm Of Love" (Sugar Hill, 1990)
Robin & Linda Williams "Turn Toward Tomorrow" (Sugar Hill, 1993)
Robin & Linda Williams "...And Their Fine Group -- Live" (Sugar Hill, 1994)
Robin & Linda Williams "Good News" (Sugar Hill, 1995)
Robin & Linda Williams "Sugar For Sugar" (Sugar Hill, 1996)
Robin & Linda Williams "Devil Of A Dream" (Sugar Hill, 1998)
Robin & Linda Williams "In The Company Of Strangers" (Sugar Hill, 2000)
Robin & Linda Williams "Visions Of Love" (Sugar Hill, 2002)
This reknowned bluegrass-y couple cover a slew of mountain love songs, mostly of a remorseful or nostalgic nature... "You're Running Wild," "After The Fire Is Gone," "I'll Twine 'Round The Ringlets," and even "I'll Keep The Homefires Burning," an Ivon Novello torch song, atypically performed as a standard, with piano backing. The Williamses tackle this material with perhaps excessive gravity... their take on every song is so solemn that you'd think that even modest melodic bounciness had never been invented... Still, they set a mood, and if you're looking for a little downcast romanticism, in an acoustic folk vein, this disc just might fill the bill.
Robin & Linda Williams "Deeper Waters" (Red House, 2004)
Although I know I'm supposed to embrace their imperfections and see them as champions of the jes' plain folks, I still find this duo's approach a bit too stuffy, and Linda Williams's voice of a grating timbre. That being said, this is one of their finest sets to date, with many well-sculpted arrangements and deep, soulful lyrics. Mike Auldridge helps anchor their sound with some lovely, understated dobro work, and the Williams harmony sound has never been more velvety. If you're gonna check these two out, this is a mighty fine album to start with.
Robin & Linda Williams "The First Christmas Gift" (Red House, 2005)
Robin & Linda Williams "Radio Songs" (Red House, 2007)
Robin & Linda Williams "Live In Holland" (Strictly Country, 2007)
Robin & Linda Williams "Buena Vista" (Red House, 2008)
Robin & Linda Williams "Stonewall Country" (Red House, 2011)
(Produced by John Jennings)
A recreation of a historically-oriented musical revue that the Williamses originally staged in 1987, made timely again by the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War. This is a loosely-structured concept album built around the career of Confederate general Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson; some of the songs seem to be sung from the vantage point of ordinary, common folk, including Southerners willing to criticize the Confederate cause. There's certainly a whiff of revisionism here, particularly on songs such as "Battling Anthems," where feminism and prohibitionism is held up against (supposed) Southern debauchery and the chaotic "Seven Day Freak Out," which gleefully mocks Jackson's military setbacks. Several tracks, such as "Somebody's Someone" and "Burying Day" are reminiscent of the sentimental ballads of the Civil War era, and stand independent of the historical narrative, others, like "Hardtack's All We Eat" and "The War's Gone Bad On Me," have a more documentary feel. I suspect that the political and cultural nuances have more resonance with Southern audiences than with Northerners, but it's an intriguing piece of work nonetheless, hopefully widening the conversation on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Hick Music Index