# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Kathryn Williams - The Quickening

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 3 / 3 / 2010

Kathryn Williams - The Quickening
Label: One Little Indian
Format: CD


Instinctive and experimental eighth album from Kathryn Williams, which finds moving further away from her traditional folk roots

Kathryn Williams is still most often remembered for her second album, ‘Little Black Numbers’, which saw her secure a Mercury Music Prize nomination (in the ‘nice girl with an acoustic guitar who hasn’t a hope of winning’ category) back in 2000. It was a worthy nominee and contained a handful of tracks that will be standout moments should she ever compile a ‘best of’ compilation, but it’s a shame that more attention hasn’t been given to her subsequent work. There has always been something likeable about Kathryn Williams: she ran her own little label, painted nice pictures for the sleeve, was slightly larger than the average performer and appeared to take herself much less seriously. Her vocals, generally delivered at just above a whisper, meant that you had to invest a little extra effort as a listener. But her wry sense of humour and interest in small details meant for clever songs. Over time, her arrangements became sharper - she resisted the temptation to smother her music in syrupy strings, but made the music sound lush anyway. ‘Leave to Remain’, her sixth album, represented clear evidence that she had established her own identity, distinct from the many other folkie acoustic types competing for slots at the Cambridge Folk Festival. Curiously, however, she seems to have decided that the sharp, incisive arrangements which had made that album so enjoyable needed to be replaced with an ad-hoc approach. For ‘The Quickening’, she has opted to set her band a ‘three takes only’ policy - with none of them being allowed to hear the songs before the recording. Its an approach that has led to success on two counts; first, it suits the songs, which are slightly sprightlier than on previous albums, and enjoy the more instinctive arrangements this approach ensures and second, it distinguishes this record from her earlier work, giving long term fans something fresh from her eighth studio album. One of the pleasures of buying Kathryn Williams albums over the past decade has been the knowledge that I’ll be collecting them for many years to come - she has managed to change enough with every album, while never changing too much. ‘The Quickening’, assuming it is the same as her other work, will reveal its charms slowly. However, it is already clear that a song like ‘50 White Lines’ has a kind of shimmering intensity that will impress anyone who owns a Nick Drake album, while the delightful ‘Winter Is Sharp’ captures the quirky, effortless charm that made her covers album ‘Relations’ (2004) one of the best albums of recent years. Williams, who must be one of the least showbiz people currently releasing music, remains unashamedly herself - wry, reflective, and melancholy. This is an album for anyone who likes folk music with wider ambitions. Indeed, the further she seems to go from the traditional folk sound, the better she gets.

Track Listing:-
1 50 White Lines
2 Just A Feeling
3 Winter Is Sharp
4 Wanting And Waiting
5 Black Oil
6 Just Leave
7 Smoke
8 Cream Of The Crop
9 There Are Keys
10 Noble Guesses
11 Little Lesson
12 Up North

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