A summer's day and The Quickening by Kathryn Williams has left me chilled to the point of drifting into a satisfyingly deep, and refreshingly relaxed state. However mellow this state of mind may be, it left me reflecting on the truth of the first line of the track: “Just A Feeling.” More on that later.
The Quickening is the eighth album from the Liverpool-born acoustic folk singer/songwriter. It is now available in North America via One Little Indian Records. Recorded in the Bryn Derwen studio in North Wales, it will set the scene nicely for the forthcoming re-release of her 2004 covers collection Relations, which will be available this Autumn on the same label.
Her decision to release an album of songs by other artists back then may have surprised those who have heard Kathryn’s own writing. After all, she has been described by Time Out magazine as “one of Britain’s finest singer songwriters and by The Guardian newspaper as “one of the most singular voices in British music.”
“I suppose I decided to do a covers album to help me fall in love with music again.” Well on the strength of what has come since, it certainly worked. The Quickening, released six years later, sees Kathryn producing some of her most poignant moments to date.
“It has a mood”, she says, a slightly sinister palette with lyrics that are raw.” Certainly the track “Black Oil” could hardly be more relevant following the ongoing natural disaster occurring in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, the song has been regularly aired on local TV and radio stations, quickly gathering momentum as the oil spill reeks its havoc.
Kathryn and the label One Little Indian are donating 100% of their collective proceeds from the track to the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC).
However strong a subject matter, it’s not just “Black Oil” that will grab the attention. The 12 tracks that comprise The Quickening see Kathryn’s increasingly reflective writing radiate a sometimes disarming honesty. “I see myself in the songs a lot, whereas before I invented characters” she reveals leaving you reaching for the album’s beautifully produced sleeve.
Last year, on Eurorock, I had the pleasure of reviewing her joint project with guitarist Neill MacColl with the album Two. For The Quickening, she is once again joined by the David Gray guitarist, along with many other quality musicians including renowned guitarist Leo Abrahams, who has worked with Brian Eno, Bryan Ferry, Ed Harcourt, and Paul Simon, to name but a few.