Unusual album of cover versions from idiosyncratic not-quite folkie

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Kathryn Williams – Relations

If some of the material chosen for this covers album is surprising?with songs from The Velvet Underground, Pavement, Ivor Cutler and Big Star alongside the expected quotient of folkie titles?the settings are not, reprising as they do the pastel palette of acoustic guitar, double bass and cello that proved so effective on Kathryn Williams’ previous albums.

As with her own songs, these are largely populated by lonely, wounded souls thrown off-kilter by emotional disruption. Accordingly, Neil Young’s “Birds” is more mournful than ever, and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” suitably hymn-like, while the arrangements cast unusual shadows over other tracks. Big Star’s “13”, for instance, is lent an almost painful fragility, while Pavement’s “Spit On A String” is rendered oddly wholesome.

The most appealing is probably Mae West’s “A Guy What Takes His Time”, done as a lazy country-blues with rickety percussion; rather less successful are the portentous drums and chilling squalls of strings that bring too obviously stressed an ambience to Nirvana’s “All Apologies”.