Picks and Pans Review: Sweet Old World
Country-rocker Williams is one of those artists who attracts a rabid, if small, following. She’s also a critics’ darling, and much as it’s fun to pour cold water on the verdicts of the pack, in this case you can’t. Williams is the real thing, a knowing, cliché-proof songwriter with a careworn soprano twang.
Stylistically she’s an earthier Mary-Chapin Carpenter (Carpenter has covered Lucinda’s “Passionate Kisses”), a latter-day, female Gram Parsons. She’s a sophisticated primitive—a master of the stripped-down image. The title tune, a heartbreaker, is a catalog of common pleasures (“A sweet and tender kiss/ The sound of a midnight train”) gently addressed to a friend who has committed suicide: “See what you lost when you left this world.” “Six Blocks Away” is buoyant pop-rock. The arrangements are plain as dirt, and the band’s not especially stellar, but the raw simplicity is a foil for Williams’s rainbow of emotions. Long may she rave. (Chameleon)