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Kathryn Williams - Relations


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 of choice.

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 Numbers.

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 notes.

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 loud.

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 Jones long-player).

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.

Track listing:
1. In A Broken Dream
2. Birds
3. Thirteen
4. Hallelujah
5. The Ballad Of Easy Rider
6. A Guy What Takes His Time
7. Candy Says
8. How Can We Hang On To A Dream
9. I Started A Joke
10. Easy And Me
11. Spit On A Stranger
12. All Apologies

13. Beautiful Cosmos
14. These Days

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