Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison

Our Year (Premium Records)

Phases & Stages

A quick return to the studio after last year's celebrated duets debut, Cheater's Game, finds Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison recapturing the magic on Our Year, a tighter, more controlled set that expands the longtime Austin couple's harmonies and kinetic interplay. Keeping it all in the family, Robison leads with sister Robyn Ludwick's "Departing Louisiana," a sparse harmonica break bridging Willis' take on Walter Hyatt's jaunting "Motor City Man." Like Cheater's Game, the follow-up swings both playful (Willis nailing "Harper Valley PTA") and emotional, ripe ballads flowing as natural as conversation between the marrieds (Robison's moving, orchestral pop swoon on "A Hangin' On"). Among the originals, Robison's co-write with Darden Smith on a waltzing "Carousel" shines against the low country kicks of Willis and Paul Kennerley-penned "Lonely for You," though the Robison/Monte Warden cut "Anywhere but Here" proves a potential hit in the right radio hands. A stripped-down close with the Zombies' "This Will Be Our Year" provides a perfect ending in harmony.

***.5

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