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Leona Williams

Honorary Texan – 2003 (Heart of Texas)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Leona Williams

Leona Williams is best known for singing with and being one of Merle Haggard's wives. She had a few hit duets with the Hag - "The Bull and the Beaver" and "Big City," where she did harmony vocals.

While Williams, who also previously had her own career, doubtlessly will be forever inextricably linked with her ex, she demonstrates on her first all new country album in a decade that she can stand up very well on her own thank you. Williams mixes songs penned by others (a very fine, slowed-down version of Lefty Frizzell's "I Never Go Around Mirrors" plus songs from Jimmie Davis - a strong take on the swinging "I Walked From Dallas," Tommy Collins, Jimmie Rodgers and Bob Wills), another five she helped write and a few songs from folks like her husband Dave Kirby and album producer Justin Trevino.

Now the Trevino name and album title ought to give very clear ideas of what this is all about musically - Texas music from someone who happens to hail from the Show Me State. And Williams does show us that at 60, she has the vocal abilities. Williams adopts an easy going approach to the music, never forcing the tempo. The few times she does push herself, the album doesn't quite work as well. There's a lot of fine playing on the album, especially from fiddler Bobby Flores (on Davis' "Nobody's Darlin' But Mine"), Dicky Overby on steel guitar and Kirby on lead guitar.

Williams has long been out of the shadow of the Hag, and this can't but help underscore that. She may be an honorary Texan here, but Williams fits right in with the Lone Star State. (1701 South Bridge, Brady, TX 76825, 325-597-1895)