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Here's to you, Mrs Robinson?

April 5th, 2006 (11:58 pm)
current music: A curous jam of Glasgow, Bowie, Williams, Amos, Capercaille

About a decade ago, gervase_fen lent me a CD which he said was essential listening. I'd been sceptical of such concepts, but the first track brought on tears of recognition. The album was The Honesty Room, and the singer-songwriter was Dar Williams.

I soon bought the album, have been to one of Dar Williams's performances on this side of the Atlantic, at Queen Elizabeth Hall, and have kept up with her career, usually a few months behind each new album. Unfortunately the last couple of releases have seen the quality of her work drop. There was a clarity of vision about the first few albums, and a sincerity about her voice and her music which began to disappear during her fourth album, The Green World, and vanished during The Beauty of the Rain, the fifth, most of which came across as astonishingly complacent. My Better Self tries very hard to recapture the impact of those early albums, but suggests that Dar no longer knows where her audience is. She's too old now, as her lyrics show, to make us feel that she is singing along with her 'Teen for God' of the opening song. Apparently some of the other songs are supposedly protests against the Bush administration's intervention in Iraq, but they are so oblique it is difficult to tell. Only the last song on the album, 'The Hudson', recaptures some of the rawness of her early work. I really wish I didn't lay some of the blame on Dar Williams getting married - sorry, you married folks out there - but I identified with her musings on the single life, breakups, exes, and the like. (Her husband's called Michael Robinson, by the way.)

But I've still got Eveningland to look forward to, as I catch up on another of Gervase's recommendations, Hem. At least, this cynic thinks, they are only on their third album now.


Posted by: Penny Paperbrain (pennypaperbrain)
Posted at: April 6th, 2006 07:35 am (UTC)

I didn't know Dar had released another album, though I suppose it is about time. You can play it to me when I next make it to your lair, and we can complain about it together.