ALBUMS: Dar Williams Promises to Meet Us There
It’s a rendezvous well worth the wait
The singer/songwriter has a hallowed history, one that can be traced back to the wandering minstrels of medieval times who were always intent on entertaining the king and court and then moving on to their next destination.
These days of course, there’s a wider audience to please, although the challenges aren’t all that different. However instead of getting the approval of royalty, today’s musician has a much wider audience to please, one on whom they’re dependent for a successful career.
Dar Williams has remained faithful to those intents over the course of approximately 20 albums and EPs. She’s never been reticent to wear her emotions on her proverbial sleeve, or to express her vulnerability or concerns through her delicate designs. She’s learned her lessons well — not from those medieval troubadours of old, but rather from female forebears such as Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez and Judy Collins, women who dared to stand at center stage and pit their talents against their male counterparts. In the process, it often requires her to bare her soul in a psychological sense.
Artist: Dar Williams
Album: I’ll Meet You Here
Label: Renew Records/BMG
★★★★ (4/5 stars)
Williams’ new release, I’ll Meet You Here, bears that out. “I know how it feels when the day will give you nothing, then you see the golden spark that’s floating in the wind,” she sings on “You Give It All Away.” “And oh, you’re gonna give it all away.”
Like all her efforts, Williams shares her effusive emotions with an enthusiasm and conviction that allows the upbeat songs such as “Sullivan Lane,” “Berkeley” and “Let the Wind Blow” to ring with an anthemic edge. Mostly though, it’s dominated by more sensitive sojourns — tracks like “You’re Aging Well,” “Let the Wind Blow” and “Magical Thinking,” that extend a soothing embrace and leave time for reflection and rumination. “It’s as clear as any memory,” she sings on the latter. “And it’s just as far away.”
Those dominate designs make for a wistful encounter, with Williams’ sweeping soprano — similar in style to Mitchell, Baez and Collins — casting an engaging aura over the album overall as it sways and shines within its own delicate designs. Yet there’s outreach as well. Her opening offering, the autobiographical “Time, Be My Friend,” is especially effusive in that regard, a song that finds her sharing gratitude for all the music and memories she’s been gifted over the course of a 30 year career.
“I’ll remember what you taught me,
And those treasures you brought me,
Most of all, a lifetime of friends,
It came together when I asked you to be one of them,
Oh time, be my friend.”
It appears the minstrel life has been good to Ms. Williams. We should all be so fortunate in the course of simply seeking satisfaction.
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