Review: Jack Foley
KATHRYN Williams says she recorded an album of cover versions
to help her fall in love again.
It's a brave choice, given some of the artists she has chosen
to copy - but a surprisingly good one, because of the diversity
Everything from Velvet Underground, Nirvana and Leonard Cohen
to The Byrds and Jackson Browne is present, courtesy of an extensive
search through her own record collection, as well as recommendations
from friends, which gives the album a fresh and exciting feel
- much as it did the artist.
"Playing the songs in their original form, breaking them
down and building them up again as if I had written them was a
really valuable experience for me as a songwriter," she says.
"I found that I could see how songs had been written and
worked on. It was like taking a home study course in music appreciation,
and it's exciting to think that one of these versions might prompt
someone to go out and buy the original."
The Liverpudlian Williams is often described as one of the leading
lights of the folk scene, particularly off the back of the success
of her Mercury Music Prize nominated debut album, Little Black
But the pressures of success clearly took their toll, following
the darker tone of its successor, Old Low Light, so it
is encouraging to find the singer having regained her excitement
and energy - which is deftly relayed via some very expansive cover
She clearly delighted in the ability to be able to work and cover
some of her favourite material - and surprised herself by some
of the tracks she subsequently chose (or which chose her).
And anyone who thinks that some of her choices may not suit the
singer's sweet, honey-laced vocals had better think again, as,
for the majority of the time, this is a very big success.
Her Nirvana cover, All Apologies, is one of the few times
her softer style hinders proceedings, and when the anguish seems
to be missing, but most of the rest of the time, her soothing
vocals are a near-perfect stress reliever, especially when played
Highlights therefore include her delightful version of the Neil
Young classic, Birds, as well as Jackson Browne's tender
These Days (which wouldn't sound out of place on a Norah
The quirky I Started A Joke is another album classic (formerly
written by the Gibb brothers and covered by many), while her rendition
of Hallelujah, recorded at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
last Summer (2003), is, as the artist herself states, like a cool
breeze at the end of a hot summer's day.
It is a fitting description for the rest of the album.