Robin & Linda Williams – A Better Day A-Coming
I always believed the team of Robin & Linda Williams were America’s counterpart to the edgier former English duo Richard & Linda Thompson. For some reason, I always kept their records/CDs together & their music always blended well in segues.
This, their 40th year recording (few teams make it that deep into a career without missing a beat). A Better Day A-Coming (Drops July 30–Oakenwold) is their 24th LP recorded between Aug. 2019 & Aug. 2020 is their 1st studio LP since 2013. Contributing musicians, due to circumstances, added their parts digitally elsewhere.
There’s a religious touch (“A Better Day A-Coming”), small-town gossip, history, big city living, peppered with interesting characters & thankfully, very little heavy-handed political commentary. Wise.
Robin & Linda trade lead vocals & while the music isn’t loaded with big production values it is performed on a firm foundation infused with natural country-folk shading. Both voices are expressive & though some songs may sound retro in a folky style they add the necessary ingredients & musicianship to keep it sweet like a charlotte russe with brandy.
Even the cover of Leonard Cohen’s now-classic “Tower of Song” is refreshed, with no loss of intensity. Of the 13-CD cuts “Living Your Bad Name Down,” “Roses & Time,” & “Life Has Its Ups & Downs,” are captivating. Easily appreciated for those not familiar with their repertoire.
There were many creative duos through the years & Robin & Linda survived. They continue to sing with vivid vocals with interesting song subjects, all immaculately crafted. Richard & Mimi Farina, Clive Gregson & Christine Collister, the Thompsons, Emmylou Harris & Gram Parsons, Nino Tempo & April Stevens, Dick & DeeDee, all had their moments decades ago with excellent blends of male/female vocalizing. But the Williams’ are still standing with a subtlety of approach.
Linda (from Alabama) & Robin (from North Carolina) met in 1971 & recorded their first LP with a small label in 1975.
On “Leaving Home,” they lay out an enthusiastic gutsy performance with drive. The musicianship throughout the CD — impeccable. Not one song drags. Linda (vocals/guitar/banjo), Robin (vocals/guitar/harmonica) are joined by Mark Schatz (upright bass), David McLaughlin (mandolin/snare drum/guitar/banjo), Kevin Maul (pedal steel guitar/dobro), Richie Dworsky (Hammond B3 organ) & Patrick McAvinue (fiddle).
13 pristine diversified songs with fluent guitars, banjos & mandolins. While this isn’t a comeback LP by any stretch, I’ve heard veteran artists with reliable track records record new CDs with big fanfare years past their prime after their initial formation. But the originality, creativity & most importantly — their identity were essentially gone.
Not so here. This is something to be rediscovered.
Photo courtesy of their website.
The 48-minute CD: Produced by Kevin McNoldy (guitar/vocal/electric bass on “Roses & Time”), with Robin & Linda Williams. Available @ https://www.robinandlinda.com/index.html