Five years in the making, and the reality of Kings And Queens at hand proves the worth of the concept: team up the undisputed talents of Blackie and The Rodeo Kings in duets with a star-laden assembly of some of the finest female singers ever to grace a roots and country album and you have yourself a wonder of a record. The album showcases the likes of Lucinda Williams Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, and more. The original release date was June, 2011. More than four years have since passed, but the quality of this album seems to outshine almost every other attempt at a similar work that comes along.
There have been eight Rodeo Kings albums to date, featuring the talents of >Tom Wilson Stephen Fearing and Colin Linden, each with independent careers of their own, and each with considerable songwriting and instrumental skill. The albums have all been critical faves and modest sellers, filled with classic covers and inimitable originals that have gained them a passionately-devoted fan base. Numbering among those fans are the singers who jumped at the chance to record with them. It’s not easy coordinating the schedules of major talents like those found on Kings And Queens: hence the five years it took to complete the project.
Each track features one or more of the Rodeo Kings singing with a different guest vocalist. Only two of the songs are covers, and one of them is dedicated to Willie P. Bennett, one of the greatest songwriters who ever came out of Canada. And Canada as we all know is no slouch of a country when it comes to writers. The Bennett cover is “Step Away” and it features Emmylou Harris, still the finest country singer around, and a fan of both the Rodeo Kings and the song.
It’s no coincidence that the group itself was named after a song by Bennett, who passed away in 2008.
“After all this time, it’s still about Willie P. Bennett. We love his songs and want to play his songs. That’s still the driving force.” – Colin Linden
Surprises abound on this album, and they are entirely pleasurable: Bruce Springsteen’s wife Patti Scialfa, rocked-out roots singer Serena Ryder, and jazz stars Cassanda Wilson and Holly Cole contribute tracks.
This is a record that roots, folk and indie fans will cherish for years to come.
Here are the ‘queens’ of Kings & Queens with the track listing:
Lucinda Williams: If I Can’t Have You, vocals with Tom Wilson
Sara Watkins: Another Free Woman, with Stephen Fearing
Rosanne Cash: Got You Covered, with Colin Linden
Amy Helm: I’m Still Lovin’ You, with Tom Wilson
Cassandra Wilson: Golden Sorrows, with Stephen Fearing
Patti Scialfa: Shelter Me Lord, with Colin Linden
Pam Tillis: My Town Has Moved Away, with Stephen Fearing
Janiva Magness: How Come You Treat Me So Bad, with Stephen Fearing and Tom Wilson
Emmylou Harris: Step Away, with Colin Linden and Tom Wilson
Mary Margaret O’Hara: Heart O’ Mine, with Tom Wilson and Stephen Fearing
Holly Cole: Brave, with Stephen Fearing
Exene Cervenka: Made of Love, with Tom Wilson
Sam Phillips: Love Lay Me Down, with Colin Linden
Watch “If I Can’t Have You” with Lucinda Wiliams
Watch “Another Free Woman” with Sara Watkins