Friday, January 14, 2011

My 2010 Illinois Entertainer Reviews, p. 16

Walter Jr.: Standing on the Word (The Road to Emmaus)--As if this album’s specs weren’t weird enough--fifteen original songs of gospel blues and soul from a philosophy major who’s currently pursuing a Masters Degree in pastoral counseling and “plays his Vinetto Artifact #121 Telecaster featuring an El Dorado Alligator Pickguard and Strap through a Carr Rambler covered by Studio Slips”--things get weirder. Randall Bramblett plays sax and does Spooner Oldham impersonations on keyboards, Bonnie Bramlett sings and sings some more, and two songs, “The Weight of the Cross” and “Won’t Be Long,” sound like not-bad outtakes from Bob Dylan’s Slow Train Coming. Elsewhere Walter Jr. pays similar (if less obvious) homage to Van Morrison and Sam Cooke. The high point: “Dark As Death,” which wouldn’t have sounded out of place coming from Blind Willie Johnson.

Kathryn Williams: Relations (One Little Indian)--This album by the Liverpudlian folkie Kathryn Williams has been available in England, and as an import here, ever since it came out on Williams’ own Caw label in 2004. Now that it’s being released stateside, it’ll be, you know, cheaper. It will also put you to sleep, not only because the all-covers track listing is already familiar to anyone with good taste (vintage Byrds, Jackson Browne, Big Star, Bee Gees, Neil Young, Velvet Underground, with Pavement and Nirvana thrown in for the under-forties) but also because Williams slows every song down (even the ones that were slow to begin with) and doesn’t so much sing as whisper. Give her this much: You don’t see the Mae West cover coming. Hold this against her: another version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

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