Kathryn Williams -Relations
When an artist hasn't a new studio album to promote, but the record label needs to release some product there are three options 1) A Greatest Hits Collection 2) A Live Album or in some cases like Kathryn Williams, a covers album. To be fair to Kathryn her venture into cover versions was originally going to be a covers RP using two songs recorded at a gig in Regents Park. This got her thinking about other songs she'd like to have a go at covering which prompted Kathryn to rummage through her favourite records plus her friends compilations tapes to inspire diversity, variety and eclecticism. "Relations" reveal Kathryn Williams own personal musical tastes and offers a glimpse into musicians who have influence the Mercury Music Prize nominee over the years, many of which may surprise you.
For a woman to cover a song written by a man as famous and revered as Neil Young is a brave undertaking. Kathryn's reading of Young's "Birds" is simplistic and sparse. Miss William's crystal clear vocal give the lyrics a femininity and fresh perspective on the themes and ideas Neil Young originally used off his "After The Gold Rush" album. David Scott's guitar playing adds to the gentle, sensitive mood which this track evoked. The harmonies, so sweet and sensual are perfectly realized adding depth to Kathryn's vocals. "Hallelujah" isn't as you may expect Kathryn delving into the Happy Mondays back catalogue, but a cover of a Leonard Cohen song recorded live at Regents Park Open Air Theatre. It's sombre, but also manages to be unexpectedly uplifting. Laura Reed who played on the last album "Old Low light" returns on Cello and she's a key component in creating such professionalism and class to the recording. This live track illustrates how genuinely haunting her voice is.
The Scissor Sisters gave the Bee Gees treatment to their reworking of The Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" but on the Gibb's composition "I Started A Joke" Kathryn opts for a more traditional approach. This very moving and emotional song, which is minimal in the extreme, gives the lyric "I didn't see that the joke was on me" much more resonance. A Nirvana song on a folk album in theory shouldn't work, yet "All Apologies" retains the sinister edge Kurt Cobain made his own. This is string laden, immediate and melodramatic in a classical style.
"Relations" will hopefully introduce new songwriters and performers to Kathryn Williams fan base also featured on her album like Ralph Rainger, Tim Hardin, Lee Hazelwood and Ivor Cutler. You've got to hand it to Kathryn Williams, the girls got good taste in music.
Nicholas Paul Godkin
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