Release Date: 10.02.07
This year has been jam packed with big releases from both up-and-comers as well as heritage artists alike. It can be tough to sift through the enormous flood of music in an effort to find those few rare hidden gems, but fortunately Tim Williams' sophomore full-length album, When Work Is Done, did find its way to my small Austin office, and has quickly become an absolute favorite for 2007.
Williams has a tough journey ahead of him, fighting the preconceived notions that come with being a singer-songwriter. That particular label seems to always imply that indie kids should stay far away, as this will appeal more to slightly cooler soccer moms rather than uptight music snobs. While Williams' music has the accessibility to draw in those behind the wheel of minivans and participants of elementary school carpools, this album is full of more than enough intelligent storytelling and crafty musicianship to catch the ear of even the most finicky connoisseur of music.
The Brooklyn-based musician worked with British producer Dave Lynch (The Duke Special, The Late Greats), along with Paul and Phil Wilkinson from The Amazing Pilots, to help create When Work Is Done. Keeping an indie-folk backbone of acoustic guitars, his ensemble was able to add in bits of color using everything from electronic beats to electric slide guitars to add plenty of depth to each and every track. This album contains layers of sonic beauty that offers new discoveries after multiple listens.
"Novel" opens the album with a pop masterpiece, with Williams' raspy vocals sounding just a little like Billy Corgan from the Pumpkins' Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness. As the chorus hits, with Williams singing "I wrote all the right things for you, but they were not convincing," bits of keyboards push forward a truly memorable melody. This is the type of song that is going to appear in a film, sending his career into orbit. At least, that is how it should happen.
One of my personal favorites is "To And From Tomorrow," with a gentle opening that almost sounds like the beginning moments of a '70s prime time television show. I know that may be an odd comparison, but once you hear it, you'll understand. With the synth arpeggios, this one comes across as a much more straightforward track from Grandaddy, if Jason Lytle had been listening to lots of Elliott Smith.
The production value of When Work Is Done never overpowers Williams' words, complimenting him perfectly on tracks such as "Out There." His acoustic guitars are boosted by crunchy, slightly distorted beats and robust synths, showing his album's balance of folk and indie. This is followed by yet another potential career launching track, "Stop Your Kidding." His knack for writing pop melodies shines through, with a hook that will stick around with you for days.
Williams has a bit of Americana in his blood, which bubbles up on the dark "It Builds & Explodes." This brings to mind Wilco just a bit, as electric slide guitars roll in, giving it just a hint of country. While some might compare this to Ryan Adams, I find Williams' music a bit more layered and subdued. This leads to another favorite, "Tape Your Head." Piano lines and guitars weave through bedroom beats along with one of his finest vocal performances.
Few albums are able to be immediately infectious yet keep a listener interested for listen upon listen, but Tim Williams' When Work Is Done does just that. Built upon a framework of intelligent songwriting and great production, he offers up an album that is easy to get into, yet never grows tired even after weeks of repeated listens. This is the album that should put Williams on the map.