Album review

This Month In Americana

Williams' seventh solo outing is no less than a romantic, star-canopied waltz through a cluster of timeless classics wrung from the rose-tinted golden dawn of Broadway and beyond. Cosying up to the likes of "Moon River", "Over The Rainbow" and "Blue Skies" in her own imperfect, easy-on-the-helium warble (somewhere between Minnie Mouse and Mary Margaret O'Hara), Williams suffuses these old chestnuts with warmth and wide-eyed wonder, like a child tumbling into love with the world for the first time. Wrapped up in gorgeous, velvety jazz arrangements, moments like "My Funny Valentine" caress the ear like sonnets.

Williams' awkward grace proves irresistible. "Over The Rainbow" features affecting piano notes and Petra Haden's lovely strings, while "Keep Sweeping Cobwebs Off The Moon" is like something The Handsome Family might creep around: a farting tuba, clarinet and tin-pot drums painting a picture of '40s authenticity so striking that you can almost see that neon carnival pulling into town through rain-smeared windows. Of course, Williams' wavering vibrato isn't to everyone's palate, but for those already smitten, this is rewarding stuff. Try listening to the closer, "Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans" (conjuring up memories of visiting her Judy Garland/Hoagy Carmichael-loving maternal grandmother back home) without weeping like a baby.

Rating: 4 / 10


Editor's Letter

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At some point in October, I started receiving emails from record labels and publicists about their Tips For 2015. A new year loomed, distantly, and with it the annual music business imperative to embrace a tranche of new artists. Around the same time, the 2014 Mercury Prize hoopla culminated...