With more than a decade at the top of the bluegrass world on her resume, it's easy to forget that Rhonda Vincent put out a series of mainstream country releases in the 1990's that, while not chartbusters, were critically well-received. From her childhood as a member of her family band, she's demonstrated her versatility and adaptability to a variety of styles. Gene Watson, of course, has been a Nashville presence since his 1975 breakthrough hit Love In The Hot Afternoon
, one of those rare singers whose voice is at once powerful, deep and warm.
Following a remarkable Opry appearance in which they were thrown together without benefit of rehearsal, Vincent guested on Watson's most recent solo effort, leading in turn to this collection of 11 duets (with a closing instrumental, Ashes of Mt. Augustine highlighting their remarkable studio band). Duets can be tricky for even the best of singers, and some great vocalists never acquire the knack for sharing the mike, but Watson and Vincent carry it off nicely here if for no other reason that their voices contrast nicely, and they clearly respect and enjoy singing with each other.
The arrangements are in the classic '60s honky-tonk style, relying heavily on piano, fiddle and pedal steel, and though there are a couple of tear- jerker ballads in the mix, the overall "feel good" vibe is highlighted by a revisit of Sweet Thang, a gem from the catalog of Ernest Tubb - Loretta Lynn duets. Also worth noting is haunting rendition of Hank Williams' My Sweet Love Ain't Around. All in all, a pair of seasoned pros having a lot of fun.