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just get more interesting as they get older (because) there’s more history in them — he was there to catch that. So if I was having a good day vocally, that really showed up in the final product. That’s what I wanted. So that for me was true comfort.”
After making her 2000 album, The Green World, Williams realized that she had been too controlling in the studio and was doing too much to orchestrate and guide the recording process.
On 2003’s The Beauty Of The Rain, she stepped back somewhat, giving her co-producers more of a voice in the proceedings and also encouraging the musicians on that album to bring more of their personalities and styles to their playing.
Williams continued to practice that approach on the 2005 CD, My Better Self, but feels that she was even more openminded in making Promised Land. “This was a fulfillment of that understanding that I got from working with all of these great musicians, that actually I need to step back,” she says.
“Unless you really want to go in there with a dot-to-dot blueprint where there’s no freedom and there’s just execution, it’s actually much better for an album spiritually to let people kind of go into how they feel the music as well as how they execute it. So yeah, I absolutely let them (Wood and the musicians) in on songs and I absolutely applied that this time, even when it was feeling a little counter-intuitive.”
After starting her career in a decidedly Folk setting on the 1994 album The Honesty Room and 1996’s Mortal City, Williams began to shift toward a broader sonic palette on The Green World that emphasized fuller arrangements and more of a Pop dimension.
Promised Land fits comfortably alongside her most recent albums. A few songs have a stronger Rock edge, including the brisk album-opening “It’s Alright” and “Go to the Woods.” And while the rhythm tracks are a bit more assertive on other songs like “The Easy Way” and “Buzzer,” these tunes still strike an appealing balance between Pop and Folk as Williams showcases her familiar ability to craft graceful melodies. There are also quieter songs, such as “You Are Everyone” and “Holly Tree” that connect this album directly back to Williams’ folkier roots.
What will sound different is Williams’ live sound on her first run of dates to promote Promised Land. Having toured in recent years with a full band and in a solo acoustic format, Williams this fall is performing in a trio with keyboardist Bryn Roberts and percussionist Everett Bradley. The format, she said, lends itself to a wide variety of sonic settings.
“I’ve been hearing my friends playing with these incredible trios,” Williams says. “It’s a little more theatrical than a band because it’s a little bit more unusual.
There’s a lot of power.” ©