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Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams

Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams – 2015 (Red House)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams

After serving as a sideman to some of the most distinguished luminaries in the biz - Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Levon Helm and Mavis Staples among them- it seems well past time that guitarist/producer Larry Campbell would step out on his own and spotlight his skills as both a singer and songwriter. It's to his credit however that he opts to share the spotlight with his wife and collaborator Teresa Williams, who more than holds her own as his vocal foil on this set of backwoods ballads and rambling honky tonk sing-alongs. Think Johnny and June, Rodney and Emmylou, Porter and Dolly... all the usual comparisons are apt and up to standard.

While Campbell's exceptional acumen on all manner of string instruments - guitar, mandolin and fiddle in particular - is well established, it's Williams' soft, sublime singing that frequently takes center stage, particularly on more forlorn ballads such as "Another One More Time," "Did You Love Me At All" and "Midnight Highway." However, when Williams wails with abandon on the traditional blues standard "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning" or sings harmony on their breathtaking cover of the Grateful Dead's "Attics of my Life," it takes these songs into realms once unimagined.

A host of prominent names lend their talents here - Amy Helm, Little Feat's Bill Payne and Levon Helm - but it scarcely matters. Campbell and Williams blend their voices so flawlessly, it's practically enough to experience them all on their own. With that in mind, this self-titled debut ought to establish the two as a pertinent pair whose backing credits are no longer needed between the brackets. This is one of those debuts that makes an emphatic first impression.