13. Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, Self-Titled
Up until now, the husband-and-wife team of Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams have spent their careers in the roots-music shadows, happy as essential band members bringing soul and authenticity to the work of American icons like Levon Helm, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Emmylou Harris. In June, they finally pulled the trigger on an album of their own, and the self-titled project has the tight, in-the-pocket feel of seasoned operators baptized in the nectar of country, rock, blues and R&B. Obscure covers and standards abound (like the almost spooky "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning"), multi-instrumental melodies are the norm and Campbell and Williams' bold-yet-nuanced vocal blend is worthy of its own review. Helm even plays drums on one track, a pleading cover of the Louvin Brothers' "You're Running Wild," recorded during a session for one of his final albums. Delivered with an expert's appreciation for the traditions of American music, the project shines a long-overdue spotlight on two of the MVPs behind the greats. C.P.