March 10, 2003 12:00 PM

Dar Williams (Razor & Tie)

Album of the week

When Dar Williams sings “Farewell to the Old Me” on her fine fifth studio album, the singer-songwriter could be waving goodbye to her coffeehouse period. The disc, which was largely inspired by her relocation from New England to New York City, finds Williams moving away from the spare, acoustic-guitar-based folk of her earlier work to a more full-bodied, pop-flavored sound that should win her new fans. Helping Williams with this more expansive approach are an eclectic array of guest artists, including bluegrass singer Alison Krauss, Blues Traveler frontman John Popper (on background vocals and harmonica), Dave Matthews Band bassist Stefan Lessard, jazz trumpeter Chris Botti and banjo player Béla Fleck. Still, the focus remains on Williams’s pure, resonant voice and intelligent lyrics. When she insightfully asks, “Am I the habit you’re too tired to break?” on the shimmering “Closer to Me,” you’ll be hooked.

BOTTOM LINE: Beautiful Dar

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