Victoria Williams (Atlantic)
Louisiana singer-songwriter Williams has been compared to such southern storytellers as Eudora Welty—artists who find inspiration in everyday acts like rummaging through the attic for pearls or hatpins. “Fixing up junk,” Williams sings about such little discoveries (on “Junk”). “That’s what we’re born into this world to do.”
On Water, the fifth studio album from Williams (who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1992), the searching steers clear of both the sugary and the cynical. Warbling in a childlike yet strangely pleasing voice, she exhorts us to seize the moment. “Dilly-dally too long and you wave bye-bye,” she sings in “Grandma’s Hat Pin,” the first of 12 offbeat songs on the album. She creates a mood of optimism with such covers as “Young at Heart,” which includes a stirring string arrangement by Van Dyke Parks; “Until the Real Thing Comes Along,” which reveals her vocal debt to Billie Holiday; and the title song, a bossa nova by the acclaimed Antonio Carlos Jobim. “Joy of Love” features background vocals by her husband, singer-songwriter Mark Olson.
Bottom Line: Music for parched ears and hearts