Crowe Lawson Williams: Media Love
Standing Tall and Tough is available from Mountain Home Music and captures the traditional drive and emotion of 1950’s and 60’s Bluegrass, on songs these artists helped to make classics, including “Fraulein” and “Hills of Roane County.” … In a world where everyone is searching for the next new thing, it’s significant for three artists who have been on the forefront of this music for decades to continue to deliver with excellence and innovation.
There’s something comforting in the title of the new album by bluegrass legends J.D. Crowe, Doyle Lawson and Paul Williams that’s comforting. Williams is 79, Crowe is about to turn 77 and Lawson is 70. In most musical genres, they’d have been retired decades ago. But in bluegrass, they’re, well, still standing tall and tough. … Great album by three bluegrass legends.
Released two weeks ago, “Standing Tall and Tough” reverberates with vigor.
“Doyle, Paul and I are old friends,” Crowe said. “We played what we knew and what we felt on the album. Doyle is like a brother. He’s a good dude. Paul is a jewel.”
Crowe, Lawson and Williams — brand ’em bluegrass gemstones.
We want to hear these guys precisely because they are relevant, just as they have remained so throughout their career. What is particularly true of these three, as this recording shows in spades, is that they have retained their skills to command their instruments, to interpret a song, and to speak directly through the music to their audiences. They are revered not only for the things that they’ve done, but also for the things that they continue to do. Not all performers are as lucky to remain so close to the top of their games, but these guys are still there. And that, more than anything else, is why they still attract audiences today. These guys are masters, are recognized as such, and that’s what draws us. They aren’t being wheeled out to accept the applause, rather this album finds them doing all the things they’ve built their careers on: writing, arranging, playing, and interpreting. Yes, they began with some of the first generation of bluegrass players, and that’s kind of neat to think about, but their playing, their voices, and their ability to tell stories is why we continue to lend an ear.
Walking Shoes gets the album off to a powerful start. As far as bluegrass classics are concerned, this one is in the upper echelon of the bluegrass canon. The song leaves little doubt that Standing Tall and Tough will be strong bluegrass that reaches out and grabs you by the shirt collar; you can’t help but sing along! …
Fraulein was a signature country song for Bobby Helms, and it has been “bluegrassed” by Lost & Found, Bill Monroe, and even Jimmy Martin. However, none of those recordings are quite like Paul’s. Closing in on eighty years old, it is unnatural that Paul should be able to sing as powerful as he does. I honestly don’t see how he does it. When Paul Williams sings a song, consider it sung! …
Although two of these three “Old Friends” are retired from full-time touring, don’t for one minute think that they have lost a step – they’re are at the top of their game. With this album, Crowe, Lawson, and Williams solidify that they are, indeed, Standing Tall & Tough.