Brooks Williams: Baby O!

~ Friday, 26 February 2010
When you read in the press release that accompanies this album that this is Williams 17th album release you find yourself wondering why you've not heard of him before. The American has been a regular visitor to these shores for over a decade now, slowly building a following and reputation as a pretty mean guitar player. Now dividing his time between the UK and the US, Williams decided to record this album here in the UK with producer Andy Bell of Seasick Steve fame. While Williams sound is rooted in the Blues, that is where any similarities with Seasick Steve end.

Williams infuses the Blues with hints of Bluegrass and Country, the resulting mix is enjoyable and spirited. Opening track Frank Delandry has shades of John Martyn about it with lyrics that focus on the seedier side of life and a percussive acoustic driving the whole thing along with flashes of slide dropping in and out of the mix. When Williams picks up his National
Resonator the stakes are raised as its rasping sound really does bring Walk You Off My Mind and Amazing Grace to life. The former features some fabulous harmonica playing from Keith Warmington while the latter is an emotional and inspired cover of the old hymn.

While there is much to admire on this record it could hardly be called original. The fact that the best track on here, Louis Collins, was written by Mississippi John Hurt seems to sum it up. Williams is a great guitar player, has a great voice and is a great interpreter of music. Other peoples music. The album closes on a sublime version of the old Jazz standard I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good) which only reinforces the argument.

Despite the odd inconsistency in the quality of the songs, this is still a mighty fine and enjoyable album that won't do Williams reputation any harm.

[][][][ (3.5/5)