Review: Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams show rootsy range
By STEVEN WINE
Sep. 13, 2017
Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, "Contraband Love" (Red House Records)
Master multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell is a restless soul, and onstage he alternates from guitar to mandolin to fiddle to pedal steel, sometimes switching during songs.
His rootsy range is also evident in the style of material he performs. "Contraband Love" includes the chugging rock of "Hit & Run Driver," the Bessie Smith blues "My Sweetie Went Away" and the country ballad "Turn Around."
While Campbell's picking and fiddling elevate the set, the best instrument belongs to his wife, Teresa Williams, whose versatile alto can raise the roof or make a ballad beautiful. It does both on "Contraband Love."
The title cut is a lovely waltz that includes a lovely layer of fiddles, all played by Campbell. He takes several turns with the vocal lead and sounds terrific on the devotional "When I Stop Loving You." Williams' show-stopping moment comes on the Cajun stomper "It Ain't Gonna Be a Good Night."
Produced by Campbell, the album benefits from a fine supporting cast that includes Bill Payne and, on one cut, the late Levon Helm. There's a tuba, too. Three oldies are included, and those songs fit nicely with Campbell's original compositions, which sound like instant chestnuts.