Saturday, October 06, 2012

Andre Williams: "Life" (album review)

After a rock solid collaboration with Toronto's own Sadies earlier this year, veteran R&B man Andre Williams has returned with his own album, Life.

From the outset, Williams vocals are a disappointment.  They are weak and flat, the sound of vocal cords that are rapidly approaching their last stand.  That wastes a gritty, smoldering arrangement on the opening cut "Stuck In the Middle".  It also makes for a bizarre "Money Ain't Got No Loyalty", which sounds like Leonard Cohen singing over a ska soundtrack.

There are some experiments on the album that, whether they hit or miss, are laudable.  "Ty the Fly" is a blues-meets-mellow electronic number that peters out quickly.  However, a gripping guitar loop makes "But'n" a   mesmerizing number.  The spoken word blues of "Don't Kick My Dog" works atop a barren, post-apocalyptic atmosphere.

The most successful venture is the disjointed "Heels".  The lead vocals, random in-and-out backing vocals, wandering and guitar are ever so loosely bound together by a spot-on rhythm section, making for an unpredictable musical discovery.

Don't go looking for hooks, the closest Williams comes is on the faint "It's Only You That I Love", but the tempo does pick up on a couple of occasions, to strong results.  "Beep Beep Beep" jives along, while all the stops are pulled out for the near-classic rocker "Shake a Tail Feather".

While "Blame It On Obama" has a promising title, the commentary of the song fails to deliver on its potential.

All in all Life is not as strong top-to-bottom as The Sadies' collaboration, it's less conventional moments warrant spending time with.

Best tracks: "Shake a Tail Feather", "Heels"

Track listing for Life:
  • Stuck In the Middle
  • But'n
  • Don't Kick My Dog
  • Blame It On Obama
  • Heels
  • Beep Beep Beep
  • It's Only You That I Love
  • Money Ain't Got No Loyalty
  • Shake a Tail Feather
  • Ty the Fly

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