Doug and Telisha Williams – Ghost of the Knoxville Girl (No Evil Records)
By Rod Ames
I was invited to be on my friend’s radio show last Halloween night. It’s a great opportunity for the two of us to go a little crazy by spinning some of our favorite most obscure tunes we can find. We’re like a couple of kids in a candy store. However, our candy just happens to be in the form of music.
We’re not limited to twang either. We play everything, from Amazing Rhythm Aces to Zappa. We have free rein and do practically anything we want (within the FCC’s guidelines, of course). I did play one song by Damon Fowler performing one of Billy Joe Shaver’s old songs, “I’m Just an Old Chunk of Coal”, which I had not heard yet. So Big ‘G’ apologized ahead of time to the good people at the FCC just in case Mr. Fowler added an expletive not contained in the original version. But Mr. Fowler remained true to the original tune and there was no need to worry. You get the idea, free rein.
On this particular night as I entered the studio with the small box tucked under my arm and in the crook of my elbow like I was holding a football, containing the music I hoped to play on his show, Big ‘G’ said, “I have some gifts for ya ‘Rebel’ Rod”, and he pointed down to a black swivel office chair.
There on the chair were four or five CD’s and a white envelope. I’ll get to the other CD’s and the white envelope another time. But one of the CD’s jewel cases just sort of jumped out at me. It was Doug and Telisha Williams’ (www.dandtw.com) latest release on No Evil Records, Ghost of the Knoxville Girl.
I finished another fun midnight to 2 AM gig with my friend and left the studio, got in my car, and immediately popped the CD into my CD player. I just couldn’t wait!
Every now and again you run across something that just knocks your socks off. This was one of those times.
The very first song, “Kitchen Light” captivated me from practically the very first note with some amazingly traditional pedal steel played by none other than Lloyd Maines. Mr. Maines is absolutely one of the best pedal steel players around, and if that weren’t enough, Telisha Williams’ voice joins in with one of the hottest, most twangy female voices I have heard since Rosie Flores came on to the scene way back when. Mr. Williams’ background vocals reside in the distant background where it’s just barely heard behind Telisha’s lead vocals. That’s they way it was written and it works. Not really harmonizing, just accompanying or maybe complimenting is a better word. At any rate, it all combines to obtain near perfection.
The lyrics – “So you want me to forgive you, again/these things happen now and then. You played a game that no one wins and went and broke my heart again/so many times you let me down and your always runnin’ around/this time I won’t give in/no I won’t forgive you again”…and then, “Turnin’ out the kitchen light/I’m walking out into the night/this time I’m leavin’ you behind/and I’m not gonna change my mind/you made me say it before/but this time I’m closin’ that door/you say your cheatin’ days are through/Well there’s somethin’ I’m through with too.” Can anyone say, “oh hell yeah!”?
Now it just doesn’t get any twangier than that. I was hooked on the record from the very first song and was astounded by what came next.
“Graveyard Train” is the next track and is at the other end of the spectrum. Here I am expecting another twangy little tune, but instead I’m turned on to this rocking number with some incredible guitar work by Doug Williams and, if my ears served me correctly, the ever so reliable Hammond B3 played by Tom Berry (also plays accordion). Ms. Williams’ voice showed a lot of versatility as well by pounding out some powerful vocal work.
I loved the contrast between the first and second tracks on the record. Come to find out, the entire record was laid out that way, and it worked brilliantly, creating its own rhythmic scheme throughout the recording.
Speaking of contrasts; the third track on the record, “If My Heart”, is a simple acoustic tune with guitar and accordion accompanying Ms. Williams’s soft, almost whispering voice, singing a sad little romantic ballad. “So go away/I’ve made my last mistake/please don’t stay/please don’t stay/if my heart could just take one more heart break/ I’d give in to you, I’d give in to you”. The lyrics are very simple while remaining effective, never the less. Telisha Williams truly possesses an extremely beautiful, very versatile voice. Her voice is capable of twang, rock ‘n roll or romantic ballads, all of which are represented in the first three tunes on the CD.
The opening three songs give the listener a very clear and precise representation of the record and it never strays from its path. In some cases I would say that isn’t a good thing, but not here. The entire record is somewhat outside the box while staying on course at the same time. This is clearly a difficult task to accomplish. However, the Williams’ achieve this goal almost seamlessly.
The number five track, “Ghost of the Knoxville Girl”, is lyrically somewhat of a gothic sounding tune about the ghost of a girl who has been murdered in a crime of passion by her love. It’s a darkly stirring song of love gone completely wrong and the pain and anguish the title character experiences and is destined to undergo for an eternity. The drums played by Nathan Logan add to the mystery and eerie atmosphere of the tune. His pounding of the drums builds up to the point you believe he may eventually completely break through the skins of his instrument.
This is a great record, and quite frankly, I don’t know how I could have missed it when it was released last month. The musicians all do a superb job on every track. The fore mentioned Doug and Telisha Williams, Lloyd Maines, and Nathan Logan, and Tom Berry are joined by Rod Capps, and Jonathan Byrd on electric guitar. Telisha also plays bass on the record.
This is a wonderful compilation I would recommend to anyone. Especially those who are into roots type music. Thanks to Big ‘G’ for turning me on to it.
‘Rebel’ Rod says to definitely check this one out.
Speaking of Big ‘G’, AKA Gordon Ames (no relation to yours truly as far as we can tell); you should do yourselves a favor and check out Big G’s Texas Road Show by going to www.revfmradio.com. The show airs daily from midnight to 6 A.M. He spins some great roots music for anyone who happens to be up at that hour. There really ain’t no telling what you will hear coming out of your speakers when you tune in.