Big Dreams, Small City – Steve Williams (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

This has to be one of the strangest albums I have had under the reviewing pen in a long time. But strange is good. In fact strange is better than good as it is the opposite of words like predictable, conformist, expected, mainstream, generic and normal and those are certainly not words you, as an artist, would be looking to find in a write-up about your creative efforts. But what makes this so unusual? Well, many things. It is genre-hopping. Fractured. Musically impulsive. Sonically wrong-footed. It is like so much that you have heard but then smashed into small pieces and pieced back together to create interesting new sonic shapes. Sort of like a surrealist painting only in sound.

The intriguingly named opening salvo, Tobacco For Breakfast sort of plays it straight, lulls you into a false sense of security, a smooth, West Coast, chilled dance groove that makes you think you know what the album is all about. But before long the subversiveness starts slipping in. Bags comes on like groovesome mainstream jazz-pop before completely heading off into pastoral interludes and hazy vocal inclusions. By the time Gilmore’s trad-jazz intro warps into ambient piano vibes and brooding bass undertones you have to admit that there is no point trying to second guess things and should just go with the flow.

Clueless is a thumping dance anthem, pounding four-four beats with islands of musical isolation and imploring, drifting vocals employed more as an instrument than as a means of lyrical communication and Brown Stone Babies seems to wander between skittering jazz-soul classicism and cutting edge, hypnotic dance floor repetitions.

It’s an album which reveals more, the more you play it. It will never quite make sense but the world is better with the mystery left in it. In a world where we seem to know every fact and reason behind music, have a window on every aspect of an artist’s waking hours, such strange, beguiling, ambiguous and mysterious music should be applauded. Let strangeness be the order of the day. Let unpredictability be your guardian angel. And let music like this be the new sound-track to a more exploratory way of living.

2 thoughts on “Big Dreams, Small City – Steve Williams (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

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  1. Dave,
    I found myself smiling to laughing out loud while reading this article. I’m Steve’s mother welcome to my world.
    Stephen, has been creating music since the age of six. Always entertaining and unexpected. Needless to say I enjoyed your article as much as I do listening to Stephen’s music.

    1. HI Sherdina, it’s the most interesting music which is the most fun to write about and so I guess Steven’s music just brought out something in the way I wrote about it. That’s what it is all about, inspiring each other and bringing out the best in each others creative efforts. I wish him the best of luck and I look forward to hearing what comes next.

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