Robbie Fulks / Linda Gail Lewis

Wild! Wild! Wild!

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Linda Gail Lewis grew up as the little sister and occasional sidekick of one of the strongest personalities in the history of rock & roll, Jerry Lee Lewis, and while she certainly has the talent to stand center-stage, the many years she spent working for her brother seem to have conditioned her to collaborating with others. Lewis' best and most successful work has found her performing alongside other artists, most notably her 2000 project with Van Morrison, You Win Again, and she's found an especially good recording partner in singer, songwriter, and alt-country wiseacre Robbie Fulks. Released in 2018, Wild! Wild! Wild! was produced and mostly written by Fulks, and he's crafted the material to suit Lewis' rollicking piano style, strong vocals, and feisty persona. The result is a thoroughly enjoyable set of piano-driven rockabilly, classic boogie-woogie, and vintage country numbers that's full of fire and heart in equal measure. Maybe Linda Gail didn't write "Round Too Long," but it's a more than fitting anthem for her, and throughout this album her piano work shines, whether she's burning up the keys in the Lewis fashion or playing in a gentler, more countrypolitan style. Lewis and Fulks trade off on lead vocals throughout Wild! Wild! Wild!, and she can sound as sweet ("Who Cares") or as sassy ("Till Death") as she wants to, while his full-bodied approach fits the rueful "Just Lived a Country Song" and the revved-up "It Came from the South" equally well. Fulks put together a top-notch studio band for these sessions (including stellar guitarists Scott Ligon, Redd Volkaert, and Danny B. Harvey), and the audio is clear, loud, and suitably unfussy. Linda Gail Lewis may share top billing on Wild! Wild! Wild! with Robbie Fulks, but she's not playing second fiddle to anyone; they both deliver the goods here, and if you don't believe a 71-year-old woman can make a great rock & roll record, this album will show just how wrong you are.

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