Monday, October 26, 2009

Sweet Williams

You can hear a warm analogue hiss on the first few seconds of this recording if you're listen to this album on headphones. The kind of warm comforting sound that you find on home or field recordings. It’s a sound that studio engineers fear and may spend wasted hours and money trying to remove. This hiss is not a bad thing, in fact it’s the very opposite. It’s reassuring and comforting it makes this recording sound that extra little bit real. You really get the feeling that brother and sister duo Ben and Sadie Warner are both present in the room with you. It’s a very odd, but not an unpleasant, experience.
We are greeted by the opening track Falling Apart. Vocally, slightly disjointed and out of phase harmonised voices accompanied by a gentle touch upon a plucked nylon string acoustic guitar. All served with subtlety and a perfectly understated delivery.
There are so many elements of classic English folk music mysticism alive here. There is a blend of male and female vocal harmonies, which are not over done or milked, and no obvious choices of folkish vocal pitches or tonal values. The sparseness of the guitar works well with the structure of these beautifully and basically crafted songs. The use of deadpan percussion with a mere hint of flute and electronica on tracks such as The Moon You and I, Where to Begin and Icarus and the Sun all bring to mind pagan ritual dances and memories of 1970’s Hammer House of Horror movie scores. The whole work is surreal and dream like.
If I must be critical on a couple of points, some of the lyrics do tend to air on the side of fist attempts at heart felt 6th form college love poetry. But even this can be excused, as it gives a twist of playful innocence.
I’m not sure if this is an official release for Sweet Williams, so lets refer to is as a CDR release. With that in mind the production is on the agricultural side of recording. I mean this as a complement to its minimalist approach to recording techniques. However, with a bit more loving care at the mastering stage this could have made the difference between a potential folk classic and an eight track recording. This still doesn't take anything away from its beautiful resonance. A truly inspired body of work.

To find out more information on Sweet Williams and to get your copy of this CDR visit their myspace site.

Reviewer: DE Powell

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