Multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Larry Campbell and singer-guitarist Teresa Williams’s acclaimed eponymous 2015 debut album brought to the stage the crackling creative energy of a decades-long offstage union. The album was released after seven years of the couple’s playing in Levon Helm’s band and frequent guesting with Phil Lesh, Little Feat, Jorma Kaukonen, and Jack Casady. A whirlwind of touring and promotional appearances followed; when the dust cleared, the duo was ready to do it all again—which brings us to Contraband Love, a riskier slice of Americana.
Musically, Contraband Love revisits the Americana textures of the duo’s debut, deftly channeling Memphis, Chicago, the Delta, and Appalachia with equal assurance. Campbell’s world-famous guitar work―scorching here, funky there, stellar always―punctuates the proceedings with riveting emotion, often like a third voice weighing in on a myriad of emotional states.
Another motivator for creating Contraband Love was the experience of taking the Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams show out on the road, as a duo, with a band, and opening for Jackson Browne (who loaned them his band). “It felt fabulous and fantastic,” Campbell says. “After I met Teresa (in the mid-1980s), I’d be out with Bob Dylan [Campbell toured with the Nobel laureate for eight years] and something was missing. I got a gig, and it’s what I always wanted, but it’s not my stuff, and it’s not with the person I want to be with. And then, when we got a taste of being a performing duo at the Rambles with Levon, the idea that we could expand on that was completely alluring.”
This couple has tapped into the dusky spirit of Americana in all of its forms (folk, blues, rock and roll, gospel, etc.) and created a unique sound inspired by the past that is spirited, stirring and timeless.
A pair of seemingly intuitive musicians, singer-songwriters and all round stellar performers who seem to have arrived on the scene already fully formed.