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
- Don't Kick My Dog
- Blame It On Obama
- Beep Beep Beep
- It's Only You That I Love
- Money Ain't Got No Loyalty
- Shake a Tail Feather
- Ty the Fly