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Doug and Telisha Williams make long ride home a lot easier

Cantab Lounge, Cambridge, Mass., February 9, 2010

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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It was slated to be a long long road back to their home in southern Virginia for Doug and Telisha Williams after the second of two gigs at the bar. Not only did they say it would be about a dozen-hour ride, but they were looking at a trip heading right into a major snowstorm.

But at least they could make the trip with smiles on their faces based on the strength of their show at the small club.

The husband-and-wife duo (they've known each other since their high school days) put out two albums on their own, including last fall's very strong "Ghost of the Knoxville Girl." They have done well on the Americana chart, getting into the top 25, no small task for true independent artists when you have competition like Lyle Lovett and Rosanne Cash.

They play alone - it's just Doug on acoustic and electric guitar and Telisha on upright bass and taking most of the lead vocals.

And it is Telisha's singing that really stood out over the 65 minutes. She has one powerful voice whether on the honky tonk of Learning to Drink Whiskey from their new disc or a Hank Williams cover. While Williams could have over sung given the massive strength of her voice, she avoided doing so. The full power and emotion that lay within her vocal dexterity came through time and again. Her husband took lead vocals on occasion and did a good job, but was more fully utilized on backing vocals and harmonies. Why not take advantage of your partner with a voice like that? Doug's guitar playing spiced the songs just right.

Another huge positive was the quality of the songs. Being virtual unknowns to the crowd there and needing to contend at times with people talking, it would have been easy for the couple to rely on far more covers, but they only did two covers and only one - Patsy Cline's Crazy - was well known. Good thing they felt confidence in their own material. Graveyard Train was a true story of a cemetery in Garland, Texas where a train track ran right through the graves. ("You can get material from any place," joked Telisha). Ghost of the Knoxville Girl was an answer song to the Louvin Brothers' Knoxville Girl.

The lyrics evoke pictures, and Telisha Williams helped drive home that point with her singing.

Yes, the highway may have been long for Doug and Telisha Williams, but the haul was made a lot easier knowing that they had done a good job.