Doc Martian's Lounge: mad chops, but helplessly adrift.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

mad chops, but helplessly adrift.

Ever met that guy at school who is obviously brilliant, but still hasn't quite figured out his field or what he likes to do? That's kinda like this album by Astrid Williamson. Boy For You has moments of deep-seated brilliance, her vocals soar, her background has a mess of good textured depthy stuff goin on. Still. It lacks. It isn't just hooks. BUT. Without hooks its like a vessel without a sail. There's nothing that calls me back to this album other than my duty as a reviewer. Her lyrics are introspective and reflective and probably her strongest suit. She isn't untalented by any means. Imagine going into your favorite neo-folky bar and hearin' someone with a great band and great lyrics and really good vocal chops but on the way out the door... you don't buy her cd. Still, you'd go back and see her again without a qualm, and maybe? you'd be stoked when you heard her break out a few years later. I would be. Ms. Williamson has an awful lot of heart. This album is 10 years old, and i think somewhere up there a sea change is at hand. Like when Hendrix joined the army and some kid busted out his The Who albums for him, after years of fartknockin' around with Little Richard and the chitlin circuit guys. She's in the Lilith circuit. Somehow though... it doesn't sound like her heart's in it... not that she doesn't have heart... not that it doesn't show that she's got a ton of heart. Remember when you were at that job that had people you liked working there, and a good boss, but the work was a drag? Like that. I don't know what it'll take. Maybe a weekend in New Orleans listenin' to the Chee-Weez. Maybe some session work. Maybe a step back into traditional instrumentation and folk reels. I can't say. I can say that there is an audience for this artist, maybe its you. If you dug sinead before she went off the rows of cast steel, and I did and sometimes still do. If you dig Joni Mitchell's stuff between blue and hejira. If you go to a lot of folk bars and like that place with artists before they find their groove (which sometimes takes years) then there's a better than even chance you'd like this album. I'd probably pick it up the third or fourth time i went to one of her shows just cuz i wouldn't want her to fade away instead bein' some great background music to a hella good evening. I have one buddy who spent decades playing R&B, jazz and soul, he did session and live work with folks like stevie wonder and mr. jesus juice, he went solo and put out some introspective albums that while filled with chops and skill and hard work didn't move him but sold a few copies, he quit, he started working at a kinko's where we played shit on the stereo like naughty by nature, bob wills, sonic death, art tatum, samba, dancehall reggae, and david byrne's collections of cuban musical touchstones. He continued to fart around with graphic design and i went off the rows of cast steel, but 10 years later, he went to cuba, and started playing with the musicians down there and found his niche, he's happier than a pig in shit after faking it for decades. She'll get there, there's no way to force it either. But I swear to my soul that this woman has a holy mission that'll make her and the crowd's big toe shoot up in their boot. I hope its soon, but if it isn't, Astrid, please don't get discouraged, just remember that nothing really really really cool comes easy. It took me thirty-five years to find my soul, some folks it takes even longer. Love yah and if I was at your show, I'd probably pick up a t-shirt to show solidarity with someone I think is really cool even if she is a little bit adrift.


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