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Quick Spin: 'Here With Me' by Holly Williams

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

HERE WITH ME

Holly Williams

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This second album from Hank Williams Jr.'s younger daughter was made for a country label in Nashville. Yet apart from the persistence of steel guitar and the occasional presence of fiddle and mandolin, it sounds more like a Patty Griffin or Julie Miller record than anything else.

And that's a good thing. Like its 2004 predecessor, the disc might be dominated by gauzy ballads, but with consistently strong songwriting and thoughtful and uncluttered arrangements, it's hard to quibble with the results. And if there's one thing that Williams, who possesses a lovely, ever-on-the-verge-of-breaking voice, learned from her father and grandfather, it's how to sell a song.

"The clock never stops and I hate this damn phone/Some days I wanna run from the place I call home," she sings, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, to open the languorous "Three Days in Bed." Then, just as she seems prepared to wallow in her heartache, she adds, "I guess I'm just needing some danger/Give me three days in bed with a stranger."

In "Mama," her current single and one of eight tracks written by the singer, Williams thanks her mother, Becky, for her forbearance during her tumultuous marriage to her father. "I've seen mothers fill their children's hearts with hate," she sings to a lightly cantering shuffle-beat. "But you knew better than to drag me down with you/You let me love my Daddy just the same."

Also not to be missed: Williams's numinous, set-closing cover of Neil Young's "Birds," which sounds like it was written for her.

-- Bill Friskics-Warren

DOWNLOAD THESE: "Mama," "Three Days in Bed," "Birds"


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