Kathryn Williams - Relations
Kathryn Williams, who claims to have recorded Relations
to help herself "fall in love with music again", aims high with her choice of songs--artists covered include Leonard Cohen, Nirvana, Tim Hardin, Neil Young, Lee Hazlewood, Lou Reed, The Byrds and Big Star--but there's an essential modesty to her approach that makes Relations
sound much more like affectionate homage than the usual state of affairs with cover albums; (generally colossal self-indulgences by spent or non-existent talents seeking to prop themselves up with the work of superior performers--the musical equivalent of stalkers posing for photographs with bewildered celebrities).
Not quite all of Relations works. The version of Nirvana's "All Apologies" aims for deceptive innocence, but just sounds twee. The take on Lee Hazlewood's "Easy and Me" is a nice try, but hobbled by an annoying stop-start arrangement. For the most part though, Relations is a startling collection of things that just shouldn't work, but they do. Anyone attempting Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is dooming themselves to toil in the shadow of Jeff Buckley's definitive version, but Williams, in a live recording, applies a slightly lighter touch with tremendous results. She performs similar small miracles with Neil Young's "Birds" and The Byrds' "The Ballad of Easy Rider". --Andrew Mueller