The Williams Brothers – Memories To Burn
This is a short satisfying trip musically. Ten cuts clocking in at 21-minutes — an economical but solid set. As stated in their press release the twins, Andrew (vocals/acoustic guitar) & David (vocals) do resemble the wonderful two-part harmony of The Everly Brothers. And like the Everly Brothers, they recorded for Warner Brothers (1988-1994).
While the music is played nostalgically the songs are vivid & excellently captured. Some songs are quite contemporary. “Tears Only Run One Way,” is a Robbie Fulks cover & “Cryin’ & Lyin’” is 1 of 4 originals by producer Marvin Etzioni (former bassist with Lone Justice). “Death of a Clown,” (written by The Kinks’ Dave Davies) & then there are tunes by Iris Dement & Buffy Sainte-Marie. Quite an interesting batch.
Their approach into Everly’s territory vocally isn’t so much imitation as an inspiring spirited resemblance. Did the late Johnny Burnette sound like Elvis just because he came from Memphis & had that same deep baritone? Well, not as much as the late Ral Donner.
The Brother’s approach takes a different curve. First – they are original. “She’s Got That Look In Her Eyes,” is what validates their country-infused Everly feeling but it’s enriched by their own talented supplements of country-tinted composition & performance.
“You Can’t Hurt Me,” with pedal steel by Greg Leisz, cruises throughout the tune, unlike anything the Everly’s recorded. The Williams Brothers are far more country-driven than pop. The Everly Brothers was a far lighter touch prior to their 1968 transition (“Lord of the Manor” & “Milk Train”).
I happen to like both duos. The Williams Brothers are just opposite bookends of this musical niche. There’s no novelty in their repertoire, but they do have a sense of humor. The Robbie Fulks song “She Took a Lot of Pills (And Died),” is mindful of Roger Miller.
Memories To Burn (Drops Oct 21–Regional Records) features Etzioni (bass), Don Heffington (drums) & with the others — it’s a 5-piece set up with a sound that’s full of gentle nostalgic melodies. The vocals were cut live the way Sam Phillips used to record in his small Memphis Sun studio.
Sometimes the past looks really good when it puts on a clean pressed suit. Revisiting & realizing that it may have lost some hair & put on some weight, but the music still has lots of personality & it’s there. Highlights — “Tears Only Run One Way,” “Cryin’ & Lyin’” “Death of a Clown,” “She Took a Lot of Pills (And Died),” “She’s Got That Look In Her Eyes,” & “You Can’t Hurt Me.”