FAME Review: Kathryn Williams - Relations
Kathryn Williams - Relations


Kathryn Williams

Available from Amazon.com.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

One of the surprise charters of 1972 was a one-shot band named Python Lee Jackson and their only hit, In a Broken Dream. Somehow, this completely unknown band had gotten Rod Stewart to sit in on three cuts (including that single), and he, along with the meteoric Gary Boyle, a top fusion guitarist, lit up the airwaves with the powerful blues cut. Well, Kathryn Williams had the LP handed to her and turned the song into a beautiful orchestral mellow track not all that far from Danny Elfman's Sally's Song from The Nightmare before Christmas. It's just one of many surprise covers in Relations, which Williams says was undertaken in order to resuscitate her love for music. I, frankly, suspect the reverse: music has now fallen in love with her.

Though rock annals occupy the mainstay of this disc, Kathryn also reached back to just before the present era to catch Ralph Rainger's A Guy what Takes his Time, originally sung by Mae West and about exactly what any adult thinks it is. Then we have Tim Hardin's How can We Hang on to a Dream?, which The Nice had turned into a dynamo in the 60s but which Williams returns to Hardin's base structure, a semi-symphonic tone poem with lyrics, moody as hell…though not quite so dark in her hands. It's followed by a truly beautiful rendition of the Bee Gee's I Started a Joke, one of that esteemed group's best, so wistfully feminine here (and, reader, if you want to catch the Bros. Gibb at their very best, lay hold of the unknown Odessa LP).

Williams' voice is a porcelain-delicate instrument, her delivery subtle and often more complex than a first listen reveals. This is actually an American re-release of her 2004 Brit CD, but, covering the timelessness of standards and classics, it doesn't yield to the pressures of any epoch, being a reflection in a personal mirror, something that's always attractive for crafted idiosyncrasies. Expect a lot of chamber accompaniment a la Nick Drake, something one can never get enough of, as well as a very soothing voice, a skylark singing of gentleness and with profundity.

Track List:

  • In a Broken Dream (David Bentley)
  • Birds (Neil Young)
  • Thirteen (Chilton / Bell)
  • Hallalujah (Leonard Cohen)
  • The Ballad of Easy Rider (Roger McGuinn)
  • A Guy what Takes his Time (Ralph Rainger)
  • Candy Says (Lou Reed)
  • How can We Hang on to a Dream (Tim Hardin)
  • I Started a Joke (Gibb / Gibb / Gibb)
  • Easy and Me (Lee Hazelwood)
  • Spit on a Stranger (Stephen Malkmus)
  • All Apologies (Kust Cobain)
  • Beautiful Cosmos (Ivor Cutler)
  • These Days (Jackson Browne)

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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