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Kathryn Williams


Country of origin:

England

Type of music generally:

Ethereal alternative pop

Status:

Most recent release, Songs From The Novel Greatest Hits (soundtrack, 2017); most recent release of non-soundtrack material, Resonator (with Anthony Kerr, 2016); most recent release of new solo material, Hypoxia (2015)

See also:

Kathryn Williams' site

Wikpedia's entry on Kathryn Williams

Comparisons:

Nick Drake, Stina Nordenstam, early Joni Mitchell, Beth Orton's acoustic sound, Suzanne Vega, Anne Heaton, tamara williamson

Covers/own material:

Own, some co-writing, and one album of covers

General comments:

She's British and I adore her intimate style, voice timbre and poignant songwriting. She reminds me a bit of Beth Orton and A Girl Called Eddy, but her arrangements are more minimalistic, though she tends to use cello a lot. She's the sort of woman that will sing you to sleep the best way. (christina_skov@hotmail.com)

Yes! The female Nick Drake! Highly recommended to Ecto audiences. (glenn@furia.com)

i recommend her as well. kathryn williams reminds me most of beth orton, with tinges of others here and there. (woj@smoe.org)

she's like a cross between Beth Orton and Suzanne Vega, with some very Anne Heaton moments, for those who have heard Anne. (meth@smoe.org)

Recommended first album:

Little Black Numbers or The Quickening

Recordings:


Dog Leap Stairs

Release info:

1999—CAW Records—CAW001

Availability:

England

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Kathryn Williams—vocals, backing vocals, guitar, percussion, shaker

Guest artists:

Callum Train—guitar (1, 3, 9), 6; bass (3, 6, 9); synths (3, 6); piano (9, 10); backing vocals (9)
Donilo Moscardini—guitar (2, 4, 8, 9), thumb piano (2); harmonica (4); glockenspiel (8)
Steve Chahley—drums (1); percussion (3)
Cath Cambell—cello (1)
Elanor Rodgers—cello (6)
Gary Bowden—bass (1)
Ben—guitar (3)
Peter Thompson—drums (9)
Howard Askew—guitar (4)

Produced by:

Variously produced by Head, Kathryn Williams, Donilo Moscardini, Steve Chahley, Callum Train, Dave Maughn, David Nicholson

Comments:

Despite the fragility of the sound, Kathryn WIlliams' debut is delightfully poised and assured. Stand-out tracks for me are "what am I doing here?", "something like that", but really all of them are strong, and the sense of quietness is deceptive—these songs have hooks and will keep you listening. (Neile)

Little Black Numbers

Release info:

2000—CAW Records—CAW003

Availability:

England

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Kathryn Williams—vocals, backing vocals, acoustic guitar; Hammond organ

Guest artists:

Laura Reid—cello
Alex Tustin—drums (1, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11); kit and congas (2, 7); bongos, cabassa (2); tambourine (4, 10); shaker (5)
David Scott—classical guitar (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10); bass and guitar (4); backing vocals (4)
Jonny Bridgwood—double bass (1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12)
Laura Mundy—flute (1, 7)
Emma Williams—backing vocals (1, 2, 3, 8)
Mike Latham—backing vocals (1, 4)
Dan Robinson—tablas (2, 8); piano (7)
Dan Moscardini—12-string guitar (4, 11), Hammond (4, 11); backing vocals (4); piano (11); glockenspiel (11)
Neil Le Flohic—backing vocals (4)
Amy Reid—saxophone (7, 8, 9)

Produced by:

Comments:

The hype on her has been quite spectacular, one paper giving her five out of five stars, two-page-spread interviews, etc. A lot of attention has gone to her voice, and this is where I was disappointed: it's not so much a voice, more of a sigh. In a world awash with wistful Tori clones and multiple Alanisettes, I was hoping for some middle ground (the strong, clear tones of Veda Hille, for instance) but this tends towards the watercolour end of the spectrum. That said, it's a haunting, beautifully fragile album, beautifully produced, arranged (hey, it matters) and good enough for me to want to hear again and again. I think it's a real grower, and recommend it. (adamk@zoom.co.uk)

Little Black Numbers is a wispy collection of jazz-touched folk/pop songs with hints of Stina Nordenstam and Beth Orton. So far I quite like it, though I'm not often in the mood for something quite so quiet, and quiet things don't always catch me but this does. I think because of the nice production touches. (Neile)

Little Black Numbers seems to me like a *vastly* more ambitious and impressive record than Dog Leap Stairs. (glenn@furia.com)

One of my top albums of the decade. Little Black Numbers is the perfect place to start with Kathryn Williams. It's obviously her most inspired effort so far and quite similar to Suzanne Vega's earlier discs, though Kathryn tends to use plenty of strings rather than guitar. Her voice is quite whispery—and acquired taste, I suppose—and reminds me a bit of Julie Doiron's, Susanna's from Susanna and the Magical Orchestra, and Lori Carson's. Quiet bliss. Not temperamental. (christina_skov@hotmail.com)

wonderful, minimalist (a little like tamara williamson but not really...) (gordoja@optonline.net)


Old Low Light

Release info:

2002—CAW/Warner—0927-47552-2

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Kathryn Williams—vocals, backing vocals, acoustic, electric and tremelo guitars; piano (8); shaker (2)

Guest artists:

Jonny Bridgwood—double bass
Alex Tustin—drums, percussion; backing vocals (11)
David Scott—Spanish guitar; piano (7); backing vocals (11)
Laura Reid—cello, pizzicato; piano and Wurlitzer (3); backing vocals (11)
Neil le Flohic—backing vocals (11)
Graham Hardy—flugel horn, trumpet
Gayle Hutchinson—viola
Head—jews harp

Produced by:

Kathryn Williams and Head except Dave Maughan (4) and Kathryn Williams (8)

Comments:

Sketchy instruments, an imperfect voice, jazzy touches. Pleasant and low-key, then interesting and odd on closer inspection. My favourite track is opener "Little black numbers" with its curious "bees and wasps" set to plucked bass. (k_hester_k@yahoo.co.nz)

relations

Release info:

2004—CAW Records

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Kathryn Williams fans

Group members:

Kathryn Williams—lead vocals, backing vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, glockenspiel, percussion, samples, theramin

Guest artists:

David Scott—Spanish guitar, electric guitar, bass guitar, backing vocals
Laura Reid—cello, keyboards, bass guitar, backing vocals
Jonny Bridgwood—double bass; backing vocals (11)
Alex Tustin—drums, percussion
Joe Montgomery—violin on 2 tracks

Produced by:

Kathryn Williams

Comments:

Kathryn's album of covers, Relations, is great. (christina_skov@hotmail.com)

This album features Kathryn Williams' fragile vocals and delicate music on 14 covers, including from Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah, Roger McGuin's "The Ballard of Easy Rider, Lou Reed's "Candy Says", the Bee Gees' "I Started a Joke" and Kurt Cobain's "All Apologies". She makes each one sound like a Kathryn Williams song, but unlike my usual reaction to cover albums, I really prefer her own songs rather to these covers. (Neile)


Over Fly Over

Release info:

2005—CAW Records—CAW007

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Recommended for Kathryn Williams fans

Group members:

Kathryn Williams—vocals, backing vocals, guitars, piano, percussion

Guest artists:

Laura Reid—cello, piano, backing vocals
David Scott—guitar, backing vocals, Hammond organ, electric guitar
Jonny Bridgwood—double bass, bass sounds
Alex Tustin—drums, usu, flexitone, toys
Brendan Murphy—vibraphone
Jo Montgomery—violin
GrahamHardy—trumpet, flugelhorn
Steve Honest—pedal steel guitar
Keith Morris—bass clarinet

Produced by:

Kathryn Williams and Darius Kedros

Comments:

Another quiet but strong and expressive album. (Neile)

Leave to Remain

Release info:

2006—CAW Records—CAW011

Availability:

U.K.

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Kathryn Williams—vocals, backing vocals, acoustic guitar, organ; piano (7), percussion (5)

Guest artists:

Dave Scott—Spanish guitar
Laura Reid—cello, piano, glockenspiel; backing vocals (8)
Jonny Bridgwood—double bass
Alex Tustin—percussion (5)
Steve Honest—pedal steel
Keith Morris—bass clarinet
Graham Hardy—trumpet, flugelhorn
Brendan Murphy—vibes
Kate St. John—oboe, backing vocals (1)
Julia Singleton—violin
Stephen Morris—violin
Nell Catchpole—viola
Peter Whyman—clarinet
Marcus Bates—French horn
Tim Weller—drums (8)
Darius Kedros—ambient sounds (7)

Produced by:

Kathryn Williams and Darius Kedros

Comments:

This collection is not exceptionally different from her previous albums, but it's just as excellent. I'm particularly fond of "Blue Onto You" and the song "Stevie" about Stevie Smith. That said, I still don't think this is as quite as strong as either Little Black Numbers or The Quickening. (Neile)

The Quickening

Release info:

2010—One Little Indian

Availability:

Wide in U.S. and U.K.

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Produced by:

Kathryn Williams and David Wrench

Comments:

This album is delightful from the very start of "50 White Lines," with its "Sparks like sparks" line being a good description of this charming collection. The pop songs have various flavours here, with hints of traditional English sounds, country, and torch song scattered throughout. My favourites here are the traditional-sounding "Winter is Sharp", the melancholy "There are Keys" and the lively "50 White Lines". This is a strong album and may very well be Kathryn Williams' best so far. Certainly to my ears her best since Little Black Numbers. (Neile)

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Entry last updated 2017-06-27 18:45:19.
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