This double album retrospective from Williams show just what an outstanding body of work she has to draw on. Call her what you will. Folk singer, Americana balladeer or just singer songwriter, it is hard not to listen to this without unforgiving admiration. The first of the two discs see her re-record many of her finest songs stripped to the bare with just acoustic guitar and vocals. This is something that many have done before but the twinning of Williams beautiful voice and the simplicity of her songs make this a record of rare beauty. The whole thing is given further gravitas with guest appearances from a stellar cast including Mary Chapin Carpenter and Gary Louris. Both If I Wrote You and The One Who Knows sound simply breathtaking given the addition of harmonies from Louris and Carpenter respectively, but this is a record where you won't feel the need to hit the skip button as the quality throughout never dips below stunning.
The second of the 2 discs follows a more straight forward greatest hits format showcasing tracks from her 15 year career and shows that she understand the commercial demands of radio and record labels without sacrificing your integrity as a songwriter. There are comparisons in her style with Alanis Morrissette, Sheryl Crow and Suzanne Vega but while she has never received the mainstream success of the aforementioned, it brings into sharp contrast what a adaptable and contemporary artist she is. From the lilting americana tinged February to the rockin' It's Alright she shows herself to be a storyteller and orator to match Paul Simon or Jackson Brown while on Are You Out There you can imaging that KT Tunstall may have had this song on repeat when she was writing her new album.
Personally I prefer the acoustic cd, purely for the atmosphere it creates, but this is a mighty fine showcase of a talent that surely deserves far more airplay and column inches than she currently receives.