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Happy Hosting, Happy New Year - Rob Ellen
Americana singer-songwriter, Pretenders was recorded in Rockford, Illinois and like his other six full-length albums the record is once again at times a little dark, and finely crafted. From Milwaukee, Wisconsin Williams has toured three continents, Europe in particular had been a favourite with the articulate performer.
Support comes in the form of Charles Koltak (drums), Jeremy Moses Curtis, Corey Matthew Hart (voice, guitar) and finally, Brooks Milgate on Hammond B-3 organ; the latter has a considerable influence on the direction of Williams’ work. But not overly so. Yes, there is a folky soulfulness on some tracks, but there is also an edgy Americana theme that runs throughout as he draws on folk, blues and a hint of folk country rock.
Strongest tracks include “In The Fire”, and with a mid-western feel restless and slightly mystically ode “Meet Me Halfway” (hints of Warren Zevon, and it is also brilliant) join the mellow “Come Undone”. Plus, with a skip in its step vibrant cut “If You Ever Heard Her Name” (complete with effective harmony vocals), and on bringing in that aforementioned soulful edge “Only Love” jumps off the page. What a cool groove. To say it is a recording of the highest order is just the start as B3, harmony vocals, hooky rhythm and Williams handling of lead vocals and guitar roll back the years in wonderful fashion.
On drawing on his travel experience, “Because Of You” sees Williams dig deeper into the mind of the listener as he speaks of life, and how one needs to follow their muse (‘no one can tell you what to do, you are free from every point of view’). On getting down and a little funky “Probably Never, Maybe Tonight” has him blend soulful sounds of Muscle Shoals and deep American South in graceful fashion.
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