Oh joy!.... the glorious return of Kelly Willis

At long last, after more than 5 years, we have a new album featuring the sensational vocals of Kelly Willis, one of THE great female country singers. A shame that she has always been something of a maverick, otherwise she would be selling millions of copies of her albums.

And here, at last, is a long rumoured duet album with her husband of 15 years, the award-winning songwriter Bruce Robison. The only other collaboration between the two is a Christmas album from a few years back.

On this album they are an updated Conway and Loretta or perhaps the US equivalent of Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson. Kelly's voice soars in and out of the mix on seven Bruce Robison originals and a smart collection of covers by artists as diverse as Robert Earl keen (his early 'No Kinda Dancer'), Hayes Carll's 'Long Way Home', not to mention a scintillating Tex-Mex version of The Blasters' 'Border Radio'

Cheater's Game was made with contributions from fans and friends but it enabled them to surround themselves with an excellent group of musicians, with occasional star turns by Al Perkins and Fats Kaplan, who without exception lend these songs of love and loss and cheating the perfect setting to exploit their beautiful harmonies. Listen (intently) to the fiddle, mando and cello work of Brit Eamon McLaughlin (who played with The Greencards and Josh Turner) or the stunning steel guitar work of Pete Finney (Dixie Chicks, Patty Loveless).

There are occasional instrumental surprises (the tuba on 'Leavin', the brilliant road vibe on Lawrence Shoberg's 'Born to Roll', the uncredited harmonica on Hayes Carll's 'Long Way Home', but for the most part the instrumentation is standard country fare with wailing steel, sizzling fiddle, solid rhythm section, all produced by Brad Jones to showcase the vocal brilliance of, particularly, Kelly Willis, and the superb harmonies of both of them.

Already a contender for album of the year and it is not even officially released until February. Those of us lucky enough to obtain a pre-release copy can bask in this glorious effort for an extra month.

Views: 1629

Comment by Jack on January 8, 2013 at 6:40pm

Very, very welcome news!  She has golden pipes, a long time favorite singer.  And a sweetheart.  After a late 90's show in St. Louis at the Side Door (?) with Bruce Robison, she came up to my wife and I after the show as we were finishing a beer before heading home.  She said she just wanted to thank us for coming and wondered how we enjoyed the show, which led to an easy five minute chat about travel and family.

Was Chuck Prophet involved in this record?  Have enjoyed their collaborations.

Comment by norm tandberg on January 8, 2013 at 8:25pm

i have to agree with fred that this release will be in the running for album of the year. i received my cd copy of it jan.2,2013 and can't get enough of it. i was one of the kickstarter supporters hence the early copy. besides the voices,great songwriting,and playing is the production quality. at least on my stereo it jumps out clearly with a great mix. i could go on and on about it,but maybe i should just let people discover it for themselves. oh and jack i don't see chuck's name on this one,but i'm sure they will work together again in the future. everyone should have chuck on their record. he is an amazing talent whether playing or producing or both.

Comment by Kyla Fairchild on January 8, 2013 at 9:57pm

I'm very excited to hear this album.  I've been a big fan of both Kelly and Bruce for a very long time.  There are samples of all the songs on the album on All Music.  Kind of a tease but better than nothing I suppose.

Comment by Tommie Staccato on January 11, 2013 at 3:19am

Thanks, Kyla - been looking for this

Comment by Jack Kidd on January 11, 2013 at 3:25am

I've been looking forward to this for months now, but it's still 1 month away from release date. All the vibes are good (quite rightly so) and I too expect it to be in my Top 10 of 2013.

Comment by Jim Moulton on January 11, 2013 at 4:29am

Finally, I'm stoked!

Comment by david walther on January 11, 2013 at 8:26am

  Got my copy also w/ the kickstarter program on Christmas eve. What a great present !!  No doubt that it will be in the top ten for americana albums for 2013.  Kelly & Bruce waited awhile to put out a duet album, but well worth the wait.  You can pre-order on amazon.com now so it should arrive on or about the release date. 

Comment by Gray Dunlap on January 11, 2013 at 9:44am

This IS very good news.  Sounds like an interesting selection of cover tunes.

Comment by chris sweeney on January 11, 2013 at 6:43pm

I was also a Kickstarter participant and as such received mp3's of this release back in May of 2012. Very good stuff from not only great artists but good people as well.

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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.