Jon Randall

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Willin' Review

by Philip Van Vleck

Duncanville, TX, native Jon Randall has paid his music-biz dues, performing with Emmylou Harris & the Nash Ramblers, as well as touring with the likes of Vince Gill, the Dixie Chicks, Alan Jackson, and the Sam Bush Band. All that work on behalf of others has paid a major dividend for Randall as well. Willin', his second album (the second one to be released, anyway -- another album sits in a closet at RCA Nashville, unreleased), is a dazzling collection of tunes. Randall's principle influences are bluegrass and country. When combined, the resulting vibe is a tasty bit of eclecticism that probably fits as readily into the Americana category as it does in country. Much in-demand as a backing vocalist, it's no surprise that Randall's singing is exceptional. His voice conveys a wealth of emotional depth, but then, the material on this album conjures Randall's intense vocal performances, so, as is so often the case, great songwriting is the bottom line. From the graceful "Sweet Loretta" to the growl of "Walk the Line" to the loping country backbeat of "Mountain of Regret" to the expansive heart of "Breakin' the Rules" and the breathtaking ballad "Afraid of the Dark," this album has a cumulative effect that's more penetrating than any single track. No matter how you break this down, Willin' is a superior piece of work.

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