Christian Williams is a song man. He loves them. It doesn't matter whether he writes them himself (all on Built with Bones) or not (For my Mind, It was Flying, his first album from 2006, contains some covers).
He never overdoes his songs. A banjo and an old Martin - that's what he works with. And how does that sound when you are the owner of a rusty baritone? The JCS is your answer: Johnny Cash Syndrome. But why doesn't anyone think of Chris Isaak (Kingman), and why do you never read the names of William Elliott Whitmore and Nathan Wade as comparisons? They are surely kindred spirits.
There is a lot of movement in the songs of Christian Williams, in a figurative sense. The man from Milwaukee, WI who recently moved to Lawrence, KS lets his protagonists walk through the woods (dark naturally), through the saloon, over a gravel road, through hallways and so on. Death and the devil are in charge here. Williams has great admiration for The Handsome Family as well as Dock Boggs but that is something you won't hear right away.
Williams has certainly made a nice record with Built with Bones, but if he wants to go further in music, he'll have to make a choice. Either maintain the same canvas but write better songs (now, they are too much alike) or write the same songs and fight the bareness with stronger arrangements.
* * 1/2 (out of five)
- Wim Boluijt, Hanx.net