Robin & Linda Williams Visions of Love

Visions of Love is a sampling of rural American music. Songs from the Acuff-Rose songbook, the Carter Family and Merle Haggard have been part of the Williams's repertoire for three decades. In many ways, Visions of Love comes out of the artists' relationship with Garrison Keiller, whose A Prairie Home Companion NPR show they have performed on regularly since the '70s. Keiller produced the album and his attention to the lyrics has resulted in the song choices and instrumental accompaniment. The words and vocal harmonies are front and centre, so much so that the instruments are present but secondary, almost an afterthought. Instead of ripping bluegrass solos we get tight lyrical country songs like the classic Loretta Lynn/Conway Twitty duet "After the Fire is Gone" and the traditional hymn "Wash Me in Thy Precious Blood." Weaker moments include the churchy "Keep the Home Fires Burning," a song that sits awkwardly next to the twangy and rambunctious nature of songs by Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers. One of the high points, though, is an unexpected Bruce Springsteen track, "If I Should Fall Behind." As the album closer, it is a telling reminder of the songwriter's skill, in that it sits perfectly alongside some of this century's most enduring material. (Sugar Hill)