The second release from Williamson Branch on Pinecastle and their third national release, Freeis an impressive showcase of Kevin and Debbie Williamson and their three talented daughters: Melody (19, on fiddle and guitar), Kadence (16, on bass), and Caroline (9 on vocals, and she also plays fiddle at live performances). They’re backed up by producer Scott Vestal on banjo and Adam Steffey on mandolin, with Rob Ickes (resonator guitar), Dusty Knapp (piano), and Randy Wright (drums) on a few cuts.
The highly entertaining group has been touring and performing extensively, and their road polish shows on this album. Melody, in particular, shows off impressive lead vocals, lead chops on two lead instruments, and she wrote three of the twelve cuts. Second daughter, bass player and soulgrass vocalist Kadence Williamson, is a fine instrumentalist and harmony singer. She adds one original to the recording (“More Than A Dream”) and pulls off a compelling cover of “I’m Gonna Move,” previously popularized by The Isaacs. Youngest daughter, Caroline, who usually steals the show at live concerts with her spirited cover of Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man,” adds another powerhouse to her repertoire with Hank Williams’ “Hey, Good Lookin’.”
Bill Monroe’s “Jerusalem Ridge” and “Till I See You Again” from Kevin Welch fill out the song list, but the majority of songs are family originals from all five bandmembers. “More Than Ever” is a love song about long-time marriage romance, sweetly sung by Debbie and Kevin. “If God Doesn’t Bless America,” written by Kevin, explores patriotic and divine guidance themes. The exuberant title-cut, written and sung by Melody, is the perfect song for a young female musician.
Williamson Branch seems to be getting a lot of things right in their emerging career, and the sky is the limit for this talented family. The album is highly recommended, and go see them in person if you get a chance. (Pinecastle Records, 2514 River Rd., Ste. 105, Piedmont, SC 29673, www.pinecastlemusic.com.)NC