Though most folks will argue that nothing stays the same, it is a
relief when some things remain as is, like singer-songwriter Dar
Williams, whose music is still keeled by a folksy carriage and
swells of country-pop chirping. Her latest album Promised Land
has songs framed in familiar lacey ballerina twirls, wispy guitar
strums, feathery atmospherics, and homey coffeehouse-glinted acoustics
bridled by a comfy canter and daydreamy ethers. Her rootsy folk straps
and blousy rhythmic beats move delicately showing a kindred attachment
to Emmylou Harris' finer sensibilities and Barton Carroll's
earthy acoustic smoke-rings. Produced, engineered and mixed by Brad
Wood, Promised Land has the beauty of prairie-land country
haloed by rootsy folk. It's the kind of album that pulls the listener
by the collar and swaddles him/her in balmy vistas and disarming vocals.
The country-folk glint scathing the coasting riffs of "Troubled
Times" are laminated to a creamy smoothness while shipping
a relaxing sway. The upbeat swells strewn along "It's Alright"
are twined in catchy handclapping beats and perky guitar strokes
steeled by a base of sturdy organ tiles. The malleable surf and
mellow pitch of "You Are Everyone" has an undertow of
soft percolating bass drums, which contrast the thicket of bubbly
acoustics embedded along "Go To The Woods." The wispy
melodic dewdrops of "Holly Tree" are delicately threaded
as overtones of accordion keys dangle over top, and the plush folksy
embers from the hearth of "Midnight Radio" project a comfy
wintery scene. The spires of heavy ominous guitars chords and light-dotting
piano keys draped across "Book Of Love" stick to the lyrics
foreshadowing of their message and telling, "Love becomes a
temple / And we begin to fear that an unfeeling oracle will say,
'You did come near, but you are not welcome here.'"
Straddling the line between sparse acoustics and sleek coffeehouse-folk
arrangements, Dar Williams has given Promised Land a shot of
ethereal vibrancy with an earthy presence. Williams began as a significant
force in New England folk, and has achieved the widespread appeal
of the Dave Matthews Band. It's hard to imagine that Williams
can be catapulted even further than she already has been, but Promised
Land certainly is a nice addition to her repertoire. The album
has significance in the evolution of folk music, facilitating its
transition to adapt to current times.
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