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You Win Again (Exile)

Cover for Van Morrison and linda gail lewis Album

Hey, who's that guy belting out those country ballads like a pro? Sounds a lot like Van Morrison of "Brown Eyed Girl" fame. The rock 'n' roll legend nails these vocals with a depth and sincerity that, believe it or not, vault him smack dab into country mainstream. And who's pounding piano on the pulsating intros for "Let's Talk About Us" and "Jambalaya"? Jerry Lee Lewis? Close, but no cigar - it's his sister, Linda Gail, who has somehow survived a lifetime of being The Killer's little sis.

In one of music's most unlikely pairings since Kid Rock and David Allan Coe, these two talents merge to create a most compelling album. While eschewing attention to hair, nails and designer gowns in efforts to become the next country-turned-pop diva goddess, Linda Gail keeps it pure country with no softening of her pure-bred vocal approach.

The strange harmony turns magical during this eclectic gumbo that ranges from the Hank Williams title tune to the down-and-dirty "A Shot Of Rhythm & Blues" and the funky beat of John Lee Hooker's "Boogie Chillen."

Linda Gail carries off the R&B riffs as effectively as her partner Van ventures into country-vocalist mode.

Though their duets often sound as though they were recorded in separate studios, there's a sizzling synchronicity here that merges these barnyard and boogie chillen together into one formidable album.

-- Gerry Wood

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