Sound — 10
Singer-songwriter Astrid Williamson has the dusky vocal hues of Ben Folds and uses a keen instinct for harmonizing gypsy-rock shimmies with urban-folk grooves which turns another page in folk-rock's chapter. Williamson's debut album Boy For You isn't your parent's folk-rock, but an amalgam of contemporary urban dance rhythms and acoustic-rock sessions bundled in melodic-pop. Produced by Malcolm Burns (Patti Smith, Peter Gabriel, Bob Dylan), the album was recorded at Clouet Street Studios in New Orleans, Louisiana which may explain the uplifting voicing detectable in the melodies. From the start, Williamson lures the listener into her sing-along tunes beginning with I am The Boy For You. The gypsy-like chimes and urban-folk rhythms have an arousing flair. Chansons like Everyone's Waiting and Hozanna have softly swinging drumbeats and melodic-pop atmospherics with springtime tones. Her songs project images of walking through a grassy meadow feeling free and joyful while basking in the glittering rays of natural sunlight. Her melodies are upholstered with jangly patterns, atoning rhythms, and emotive vocal curls like in What Do You and If I Loved You. There is a noir rock sweetness about Outside like it is music made to be enjoyed during the evening hours, and the casino-lounge grooves and torchlight vocals milling about Sing For Me conduit a candlelit illumination. Tracks like If You See The Man and Say What You Mean have genteel piano lifts contrasting the thick, dark mournful guitar sweeps dangling from the melody World At Your Feet' with harmonica wails that reverberate brightly along the shadowy acoustic tunnels. The static effects lining Someone project raindrops trickling down on the wispy guitar pickings and light frisky drumbeats as Williamson's vocals she'd buttery whispers through the melodic passages. It's hard to imagine that Astrid Williamson can get better than this.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics feel very personal with a folksy musing like in the track Outside when Williamson sings, I don't know what I should do/ But I see something good/ I don't know what I should see/ But I can't set you free/ These things you said/ I know you remember these things you said. Other times, the lyrics apply to a more general audience like in Everyone's Waiting and Williamson howls, Everyone's waiting for someone, for something, for anything to make them feel better than before. The lyrics can either sound like excerpts taken from a private diary or seem like reflections about conditions that all people share giving the songs globally social significance.
Overall Impression — 10
One Little Indian Records made a smart decision to license the debut solo album from this Scottish lass. According to Astrid Williamson, Boy For You was recorded on Halloween and finished in a short period of time, but you would never know that after listening to the album. The songs are so well polished showing flowy inlays of piano and string arrangements, intricately laid percussive beats, chambers of jangly props, and finely tailored vocals that you would never believe the album was made so immediately. Rather it sounds very detail oriented and time consuming to make the tracks so melodically tuned. The album shows all the signs of seasoned musicians behind the production. Williamson, who put her debut effort out on her own label Incarnation Records, is a graduate of the prestigious Royal Scottish Academy in Glasgow. She was born to parents who were musicians and prior to becoming a solo artist, she was a member of the rock band Goya Dress. She admits to being proficient on piano, guitar, flute, and fiddle and to knowing always that she would make her living as a musician. Now, people know it too.