Don Williams

Lord I Hope This Day Is Good

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A year after his biggest-selling record ever, the pressure was on Don Williams to deliver, and he did. While Especially for You didn't sell quite as well as I Believe in You, it sold plenty. Economics aside, it is -- like all of Williams' work from the mid-'70s through the early '90s -- remarkably consistent, full of great songs and the now trademark production sound of Williams and Garth Fundis. There are some new twists here as well. While the song catch this time out was as good as any, with contributions from Bob McDill, Rick Beresford, Roger Cook, Dave Hanner, and other cats in the band such as Dave Kirby and Charles Cochran, there are two covers here of a very special nature. The first is the album's opener, "Fair Weather Friends." Written by Joe Allen and Johnny Cash, the song feels as if it were written for Williams despite the steady but muted Cash rhythm that is ever present in the song. One can hear Cash's voice singing it too, as he has for years, but this version doesn't sound so much like a proclamation or exhortation, but like a fireside chat from an elder to a younger. The other is a duet with Emmylou Harris on a read of Townes Van Zandt's jewel "If I Needed You," which kicks off side two. Astonishingly faithful to the original and so ghostly in its slow, shimmering approach that it's almost not even there, it has the wallop of an emotional train wreck. Perhaps this track should have closed the set instead of opened its second half, because the voices of Harris and Williams move toward each other so effortlessly, so full of elegiac passion, that the other cuts can't complete, though they are excellent works. Oh well, at least the material is here and as an album it sticks up.

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