Review: Brooks Williams – Baby O
Posted on: Thursday, Apr 15, 2010
(Red Guitar Blue Music: RGBM-1001)
Now here’s one of those albums that arrive every now and then by an unknown artiste – for my sins! – but with lovely packaging, sleeve and bio, however one spin through and Brooks Williams had my full attention! Unbelievably his 17th CD, and his first recorded in the UK, from the Statesboro, Georgia-born troubadour, who has been on the road for some 23 years, travelling the world.
This is a classy affair from start to finish, straddling the roots music boundaries of blues, folk and classic Americana. The man himself is a superb acoustic guitar fingerpicker and slide player, with a most appealing voice – and is backed by a fine British group of musicians that comprise current Jethro Tull bass player David Goodier, folk rock veteran PJ Wright (Dobro, pedal steel and electric slide guitar), Keith Warmington (harmonica), and Helen Watson on backing vocals. He produced the album himself, with it being recorded by Andy Bell in just six days.
The 12 tracks on offer are roughly a 50/50 split of originals and covers, kicking off with the lovely tale of “Frank Delandry”, a rolling folky number with some tasty slide work, with a sweet version of Son House’s “Grinnin’ In Your Face” up next, giving Keith Warmington a chance to show off his harmonica work. His own blues stomper “Walk You Off My Mind” recalls classic Delta blues, with its ‘walking’ guitar line and more top notch harmonica.
“All Been Said” is quite gorgeous, with his lilting voice and just tremendous fingerpicked guitar; “Last Chance Love” is an aching country tune, underpinned by PJ Wright’s weeping pedal steel guitar on this tale of long-distance love. The title track, “Baby O” is again in a country mode, with more evidence of Brooks Williams spectacular guitar playing.
The traditional “Amazing Grace” is turned into a slide guitar instrumental – with, I think, Williams on acoustic and PJ Wright on electric guitar, with Delta legend Mississippi John Hurt’s “Louis Collins” given a stunning interpretation. “Moon On Down” has a swampy John Fogarty feel to it, with contributions from all the musicians, particularly Warmington’s harmonica and Helen Watson’s great voice.
Mel London’s “Sugar Sweet” is a nice blues – once famously covered by Freddie King – with the closing treat being the Duke Ellington tune, “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t No Good), given a stripped down jazzy blues treatment, and warm vocal – quite lovely, and representative of the quality on offer here!
Definitely one of the best things I have heard this year, and more evidence of the fine musicians out there who may not be household names, but produce music as fine as this!
Catch Brook Williams at:
Carlisle Folk & Blues Club, Sunset Suite at Carlisle United FC, Friday, 23rd April – contact 01228 541799, £8, 7.45 pm
Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, Steve Tilston’s Trades Roots: Trades Club, Thursday, 17th June – contact 01422 845265, £7/£9, 8 pm
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