- Personnel: Jon Randall, Emmylou Harris, Kim Richey, Lorrie Morgan (vocals); Larry Atamanuik, Tom Britt, Sam Bush, Steve Conn, John Cowan, Jerry Douglas, Roy Huskey, Jr., Richard McLaurin, Tim O'Brien, Al Perkins, Dave Pomeroy, Harry Stinson, Brent Truitt, Kenny Vaughn, Scott Vestal.
- Duncanville, TX, native Jon Randall has paid his music-biz dues, performing with Emmylou Harris & the Nash Ramblers, as well as touring with the likes of Vince Gill, the Dixie Chicks, Alan Jackson, and the Sam Bush Band. All that work on behalf of others has paid a major dividend for Randall as well. Willin', his second album (the second one to be released, anyway -- another album sits in a closet at RCA Nashville, unreleased), is a dazzling collection of tunes. Randall's principle influences are bluegrass and country. When combined, the resulting vibe is a tasty bit of eclecticism that probably fits as readily into the Americana category as it does in country. Much in-demand as a backing vocalist, it's no surprise that Randall's singing is exceptional. His voice conveys a wealth of emotional depth, but then, the material on this album conjures Randall's intense vocal performances, so, as is so often the case, great songwriting is the bottom line. From the graceful "Sweet Loretta" to the growl of "Walk the Line" to the loping country backbeat of "Mountain of Regret" to the expansive heart of "Breakin' the Rules" and the breathtaking ballad "Afraid of the Dark," this album has a cumulative effect that's more penetrating than any single track. No matter how you break this down, Willin' is a superior piece of work. ~ Philip Van Vleck
Q (10/00, p.127) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...He applies his pure tenor voice to such tuneful tear-stains as 'Can't Hurt Anymore' and 'Can't Find The Words'...only to broken up by bluegrass strut...and gutsy blues..."
Dirty Linen (2-3/00, p.91) - "...proves himself to be an expert at crafting crisp country-pop....Randall has definitely shown he can step out on his own in style."
Country Music People (1/00, p.30) - 4.5 out of 5 - "...Reba ho-ho-hoes her way through the uptempo 'Up On The Housetop' [and] turns pensive on 'The Secret Of Giving'....a wonderful album that shows just how a Xmas album should be made..."