Kathryn Williams - The Quickening
Kathryn Williams’ new CD The Quickening is a delightful collection of some of her most personal songs yet. Recorded live over four days the album has an immediacy and a coherence sometimes missing from past efforts. The songs are sharp and in focus and William’s breathy soprano has never sounded more lovely. Like the title suggests the songs seem born out of the very voices and instruments of the musicians assembled and take on a life of their own.
The album starts off with '50 White Lines’ in which the tour bus is transformed into a Bonnie and Clyde style getaway car. The music ticks along like signposts flashing by as a male voice counts the endless white lines while Williams’ vocals conveys the urgency of making it to the next town: "The road is alone / it’s still and it’s dark / And the thoughts in my head / are like sparks, like sparks." Sandwiched in between the light and airy ‘Just A Feeling’ and ‘Wanting And Waiting’ is the Celtic-tinged ‘Winter Is Sharp’, acoustic guitar and accordion accompanying Williams’ beautifully straight-forward delivery about love and loss: "Your ship never came back / They say you'll never be back / So the winter is dark..."
The dreamy ‘Black Oil, with its simple piano accompaniment sounds like a glorious sunset and moves silently into the bitter heartbreak of ‘Just Leave’. Williams’ voice sounds both tired and resigned as she tries to come to terms with a lover’s deception: “Our beds are full of thoughts with no where to go / Such a powerful pull away from me.”
The majority of the songs, from the itchy ‘50 White Lines’ and the moody ‘Smoke’ about the transient and ethereal nature of love (“Holding you is like holding onto smoke”) express a longing and impatience of wanting to arrive somewhere, whether it be the next town or the next romance. There is a melancholy and a longing in this album, yet Williams’ soft and lilting voice dispels any needless gloom. Take the almost upbeat ‘Little Lesson’: “What were the words that brought you back to me? / Give a little lesson for our love.” One has the impression that Williams is not one to give up the journey before she’s found what she’s looking for.