A time-travelling bluesman from the dirty ‘30s American south sounds like the premise for a film thrown up during the Hollywood writer’s strike, but a portal nonetheless seems to have been ripped open. Low and behold, artists like CW Stoneking and Archer seem to keep finding themselves in the Australian wilderness with Karl S Williams seemingly falling out of the same wormhole.
His debut album Heartwood was originally released independently last year but found its way into the hands of the good people at the Warner Music label imprint, Footstomp Records. They decided a re-release was in order with this 2.0 version containing three additional tracks Time Bomb, Golden Tears and Seeing Stars.
Time Bomb opens the album as Williams’ quintessential blues lyrics cut over the top of an electric piano-driven fusion of rock and soul. Sounding like a world declaration of impending doom, Williams’ opening chorus introduces him as ‘A daisy-cutting motherfucking judgement day’. The largeness of the opener quickly dissipates as he makes his incredible vocal range apparent on Is This Love? (not a Marley cover) accompanied by a sparse piano melody.
The clock is turned way back past the end of daylight savings on the following tracks White Hoteland Be’elzebub. These are the sort of tunes that would have pricked Alan Lomax’s ears as he passed a rundown shack at the meeting of four desolate dirt roads. I Fell for You and Golden Tears mix in soul elements with equal measures of pop sensibility. Williams is at his best when his straight shooting lyrics and uplifting melancholic melodies are left to float by themselves. Occasionally the songs are a victim of overproduction, like the use of a string section on The Darkest Cloud. His is a voice that doesn’t require the extra textures the string section creates because, like the bluesman of old, simply through his vocal and guitar chords he can channel the pain of life and warp it into beauty.
BY RHYS MCRAE
-Taken from Beat
|2||Is This Love?|
|6||I Fell For You|
|7||The Darkest Cloud|
|8||Chief Running Water Sings The Blues|
|10||Ring Around The Moon|
|11||Your Final Bed|