The vibe was lacking despite Kathryn Williams’ attempts and charming flawless vocals on Saturday night. With a new album out, Resonator, Williams is presently touring to promote the new album, supporting singer and songwriter Scott Matthews. Unfortunately there is little she can play from this album and her set is a wonderful selection of her tracks, with little jazz in sight.
It is a mere eighteen months since Kathryn Williams’ previous album Hypoxia was released to critical acclaim by One Little Indian, her label since 2010’s The Quickening. Hypoxia was an interesting project, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, working with talent such as Jon Thorne and Ed Harcourt. Resonator is Williams’ twelfth album since coming to our attention in 2000, as her second album Little Black Numbers was nominated for a Mercury Prize. Within the folk scene she has since then been culminating albums with her ditties, talented songwriting and sweet-sounding vocals, allowing influences such as Nina Simone and Nick Drake become apparent throughout her work.
Supporting Williams was Michael Timmons, a very timid but technically astute musician and wonderful lyricist, playing forlorn tracks and ballads. Despite his evident talent there was just something lacking from the performance. He perhaps could have done with some collaboration or backing vocals.
But as an artist who has taken control of her own career, having released some of her own albums there is an understandable makeshift feel to this gig, as Williams wins over the crowd with her whimsical introductions to her music and performance. She makes the fans feel intimately close, inviting them to listen to her personal journeys, throughout the course of the gig, and its unfortunate that the venue, Broadcast, is only half-full. She makes some rather exquisite noise.
Williams’ voice, languid and intimate, is stunning, but aside from some led fairy lights on stage, there is little going on visually. Although there is clearly an appreciation from the crowd for this lass’ music, she does not have them hypnotised under her spell and gaping. It might have been special to witness Anthony Kerr on stage with her, and a rendition of Funny Valentine but there was none of that in sight. Simply Williams, her guitar and her stories of driving alone on tour, in contemplation mode.
Her set being stunning, her vocals being delicately wonderful, there is little you can criticise about this performer and her music. There was just, however, a little too much humble modesty on stage with the support Timmons and this certainly continued with Williams. As a musician with twelve albums under her belt, I was perhaps expecting more. Yet, don’t get me wrong, the intimate, personal approach is welcomed and her reflective audience is left in high spirits.
Her tour concluded at Electric Circus in Edinburgh but here is more on Kathryn Williams.