on 4 November 2002
Well well, I must say I am very pleasently surprised. I purchased Little Black Numbers on impulse last year, literally because I liked the title. I do that sometimes when scouting for new music. Sometimes I come up a winner, and sometimes they are fast-tracked to the dustball cd space at the bottom of the rack!
At first, I liked Little Black Numbers, but was soon to tire of her breathy voice, fragile lyrics and plucking acoustics and it became allocated to status of dustball collector (although, sometimes I did pull it out to listen specifically to the wonderfully crafted 'Fell Down Fast' track). So, when I bought Old Low Light, it was more out of curiosity than expectation.
I am however, happy to be VERY impressed. Ms Williams has made some move away from the overtly fragile edge of Little Black Numbers without losing what was good about the album. I like the darker lyrics. While still beautiful and delicate, they seem grittier too. The string arrangements in 'Tradition' and 'No one takes you home' are evocative examples of a new depth and heaviness that appeals very much to me (maybe less of the 'baa baa pa ba' backing in the latter though, a bit too boppy for my liking and it seems superflous to the track).
My verdict (for what this ramble is worth!) is to say WELL DONE Ms Williams, you have produced a gem. I humbly apologise for not seeing your raw talent sooner. *Dusts off Little Black Numbers"
on 9 October 2002
i was sceptical as to whether ms williams could come up with an album to come anywhere near the beauty and scope of her last album "little black numbers", but here she is blowing her previous work out the water.
the opening track (entitled "little black numbers" in a self reference) catches your attention with an itricate yet bare bassline and makes you think "what the hell is this?" but then williams's gorgeous vocal comes in, augmented by the softest touch on guitar and a spikey cello line. this track signals that the album is brave, musically amazing and lyrically clever.
other highlights for me are "beatles" (a story of a bizarre encounter with a hitch-hiker) "white blue and red" and "mirrorball", a lovely sounscape with a relentless, travelling feel to it.
if you haven't heard kathryn williams before (or indeed, if you have), go and buy this album, you won't be disappointed.
this is my album of the uear, without a doubt!
I gave the previous Little Black Numbers a creditable 3 star rating when it was released and this is a great improvement, indeed a lovely album which builds on Kathryn Williams' undoubted musical and songwriting ability. The songs are better structured, the playing stronger, the phrasing more confident and the lyrics more mature. Williams' voice is soft, breathy, intimate, vulnerable and is complemented perfectly by spanish guitar, double bass, cello, piano (at times) and some other well judged accompaniment. The songs are soulful, confessional and, yes, distinctive - at times similar to some early Beth Orton. Overall a relaxing and refreshing listen while full of ideas with lots of highlights and only a few low points (i agree with an earlier reviewer about the dreadful "ba pa pa" on 'No-one takes you home').
One of the top albums of 2003. I'm really looking forward to the next one now.
on 19 December 2013
This is the first Kathryn Williams Album I ever heard. And,in my opinion,it is her very best. Not only her best,but also one of my favourite albums of all time. In general, I've never been much of a fan of either 'folky' music,or of 'singer-songwriters'. But this album cuts through my prejudices. It is a wonderful album,that I come back to again and again.
on 17 May 2008
I only discovered Kathryn Williams' music earlier this year and was fortunate to see her and Neill MacColl in concert. Really like their album "Two" and bought "Old Low Light" on the strength of this, plus the excellent live rendition of "Little Black Numbers", the opening track, at the concert.
I now play this album very frequently, especially for "Little Black Numbers" and the fantastic "No One Takes You Home". "Wolf", "Mirrorball", "Tradition" and "Swimmer" are other outstanding tracks for me. Kathryn's voice is wonderfully breathy and the instrumentation is really interesting and fits the material well.
Kathryn's work deserves to be known much more widely.