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Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis

Wild! Wild! Wild! – 2018 (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by Greg Yost

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CDs by Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis

Throughout her five-decade-plus career, Linda Gail Lewis, younger sister of Jerry Lee Lewis, has shone brightest when collaborating with other artists, whether it be her brother, Van Morrison or her daughters. That formula certainly holds true on her new collaboration with acclaimed songwriter and singer Robbie Fulks.

In Fulks, Lewis finds a partner who excels at writing, curating and performing songs that bring out the best in her voice - rock, country and rockabilly tunes either from or reminiscent of her early performing days.

The duo's compatibility is most evident on rockin' piano boogies like "Round Too Long," "Boogie Woogie Country Gal" and "Wild Wild Wild," which features Fulks channeling The Killer as he trades lead vocals with Lewis. There is a spirit and energy to these recordings that is immediate and undeniable.

Equally entertaining are the traditional country and honky-tonk numbers, thanks in large part to the top-notch talent Fulks assembled for these sessions. Tommy Detamore's emotional pedal steel perfectly complements the Lewis/Fulks duet vocals on "That's Why They Call It Temptation," while Scott Ligon's soulful organ work adds plenty of gospel-inspired gravitas to the Fulks-helmed "Foolmaker."

Another key contributor is Fender Telecaster wiz Redd Volkaert, best known for his stint as a guitarist with Merle Haggard's Strangers. Volkaert's signature twang is used in a variety of ways, including meandering lead lines that add a playful feel to "Who Cares" and tasty licks that give the modern murder ballad "Till Death" a classic country feel.

"On The Jericho Road," with its sparse acoustic arrangement, is a stylistic departure from the rest of the album and initially, it feels like an odd fit until you learn that Lewis recalls singing this old gospel tune with her brother as children. This duet brings the concept full circle - showcasing another successful vocal collaboration while also symbolically bookending her singing career.