Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis

Beautiful Lie (The Next Waltz)

Texas Platters

After stepping out solo with memorable country recordings over the past two years, Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis re-pair for the couple's fourth LP together and first since 2014's Our Year. The front half of Beautiful Lie offers some of their best genre work together, with each singer taking song leads as they roll into the traded verses of the title track. Willis wrings out every emotion to a single note with an understated power on opener "If I Had a Rose" and the aching waltz of "Nobody's Perfect," while Robison launches the album highlight with a catchy nostalgic trip on Jack Ingram co-write "Astrodome." When the duo finally come together full-on to tackle the Amazing Rhythm Aces' 1975 hit "Beautiful Lie," Robison's easy drawl and Willis' lingering twang fold together as if made for the twining. Likewise, Robison rolls easy into Willis' charmed harmonies on his "Coming Down," the album's back half tapping the hit songwriter for "Heartache to Houston" and swirling B3 organ jam "Brand New Me." Willis dishes her own gem late in the proceedings, trembling the swooning melody of David Ball's "Lost My Best," which the C&W queen sinks into and could have easily lifted into a blowout Eighties power ballad. Austin's reigning country couple remain on a roll and are only getting better.

***.5

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Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis

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