Rope Around My Heart

Doug & Telisha Williams

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Rope Around My Heart Review

by William Ruhlmann

Doug & Telisha Williams perform what probably would be called old-timey country music if it didn't consist largely of original tunes. Doug Williams plays guitar, Telisha Williams plays mandolin, various associates contribute other acoustic instruments, and Telisha sings lead on most of the songs, which not only have a rural country feel but also tend to concern themselves with people in dire circumstances. Telisha's voice is an excellent vehicle for such tales of woe, since she sings in a Southern accent somewhat reminiscent of Lucinda Williams (no relation) with a plaintive tone that adds emphasis, for example, to "Shirt on a Rack," a song in which a woman recalls the abuse she suffered from her stepfather. Doug, who sings harmony to his wife's leads, tends to takes over when the tempo picks up. But it makes sense that she sings "Long Black Veil," even though it is a man's song, since the story of a woman who allows her lover to go to the gallows when she could provide an alibi by admitting her affair with him is right up her alley. After that and such originals as the murderous "Southwest Virginia Blues," a song like "Nashville," which is merely about the struggles of aspiring musicians, seems almost cheery, and the title song, which compares love to drug addiction, a positive celebration. Doug & Telisha Williams are part of a long tradition of country musicians that includes the Carter Family and the Monroe Brothers who are unafraid to explore the dark side of mountain life.

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