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Tim Williams
The Refrain e.p.
self-released
www.tim-williams.net


Sometimes I operate under the illusion that I work as a model talent scout. Musicians not only send me their CDs, but I get biopics and pictures too, and always in B&W. I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to do with these things, but I guess I can start making a scrapbook out of all this stuff so that some day when I'm old and senile, throwing broken-up Alka-Seltzers to the pigeons in the town square (or if I'm still in the Springs, heroin needles to the ground squirrels in Acacia Park), with the battered, age-worn copy of my scrapbook conspicuously tucked under my crooked arm, I can accost some young teens on their way to the mega-multi-plex and show them how I used to write about music from bands that nobody ever heard of. Assuredly, the whole exercise will bring me to tears, or at least a frothing rage, whereby, this terrified (and spectacularly overweight) lump of flesh will develop a slight quiver in his upper lip when he realizes that he won't escape the icy grip of my withered craw, and that he is going to have to spend an entire afternoon away from his Super Ultra X-Box II with someone who smells like sour milk and is arguably a billion years old. In this scrapbook, he will come across a singer-songwriter from Brooklyn whose body is too small for his head. It may be the only time he ever sees someone whose ass is not 40 times larger than his head. The crushing blow will come when this abscess of big-macian excess turns his bloated, balloon-shaped head quizzically up at me and says, "What's music?" (By then, "music" will be nothing more than strings of hacked and stolen samples, all cobbled together.)

Dear, sweet, Jesus, make sure the squirrels and I do a bang up job of disposing of his smooth, gargantuan body.

So, here's the part where I responsibly dispense with my duties as a critic, between bouts of making fun of fat kids and over-wrought, consumption-driven pop-trash from the future…

People like Tim Williams embody the very personal nature of music. A guy, on his own, pouring his heart into what he writes and plays; the singer-songwriter is the picaresque anti-hero of the music biz. For they are proof that you need not become part of the big-label (or even the indie-label) industry in order to make a modest, but respectable living as an artist. Sure, it's hard work, and let's face it, he probably won't get rich or famous off of it. However, the advent of the Internet has been a windfall for these working-class types of the music world. The "modest living", has somewhat replaced the "meager existence" of the old archetype of the starving artist.

The Refrain is a good introductory platform for Williams' music. He employs a wide breadth of instruments to demonstrate his musical range, and to inject variety into this EP. The first song, "Cave In" is undisputedly the centerpiece of the work, a driving, acoustic guitar song with as much edge and angst as this reedy musician is likely to muster. It has a wispy, yet soulful chorus, and manages to seamlessly integrate glockenspiel AND electric piano interludes into it; unexpectedly so, but not out of place. The rest of the EP showcases greater musical depth, mood manipulation, and pacing amidst the thematic backdrop of relational disquiet. Realistically though, these songs need to be part of a larger album. The collection, as it stands, is in need of at least 2 more forceful songs to get the listener's blood flowing again. Quiet, introspective songs are all well and good, but even the well-crafted ones can still put you to sleep if too many are strung in succession. I'd like to hear his forthcoming LP when it's released, since my review is only a half measure of what feels like half of an album.

Not to mention, I've already written more than I should have for an EP, even if most of it was me just screwing around.

-JD

Track Listing:

1. Cave In
2. Hard To Let Go
3. Give It Up
4. Leaving You
5. Ups
6. Fine Without You


 

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Mike Doughty



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