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In the Time of Gods (Bonus Track Version)

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Album Review

Dar Williams has been torn between her folkie instincts and the guilty pleasures of pop music just as long as she's divided her songs between smart and often witty character studies and explicitly activist political material, and 19 years after she made her first album, 2012's In the Time of Gods confirms all of this is still the case. However, with maturity Williams has been shifting the way these ingredients fit together, and musically In the Time of Gods is an album that uses pop textures to burnish material that still feels quiet and contemplative, even when the dynamics are at their most dramatic on songs like "Summer Child" and "I Am the One Who Will Remember Everything." The backing musicians, who include Charley Drayton on drums, Larry Campbell on Dobro, and Rob Hyman on keys, give these songs smooth and approachable surfaces, but Williams is clearly aiming for a thoughtful mood on In the Time of Gods, and that's just what the players and producer Kevin Killen deliver. The artful dynamics and cool, cerebral surfaces of this music accompany a set of songs that are most often the work of Dar Williams the activist, telling stories of child soldiers readjusting to the civilization of those who have rescued them, examining the upsides and downsides of political engagement, and struggling to find peace in a world where justice is in short supply. While the album's inward-looking tone is pervasive, Williams has also included a few more personal songs in the mix, and "I Have Been Around the World" is a moving tribute to her loved ones, while "The Light and the Sea" (featuring guest vocals from Shawn Colvin) is a nautical metaphor for life's constant challenges. In the Time of Gods isn't one of Dar Williams' most immediately engaging albums, but it doesn't sound as if it was meant to be. This is music that speaks of the heart, the soul, and the mind; her messages are articulate and well-crafted, and this ranks with her best work of the past decade.

Customer Reviews

Dar at her best!

Not only is this classic Dar Williams, but it is in many ways a return to what Dar does best - - warm melody, haunting lyrics and profound, profound thought musically packaged into light but penetrating arrangements and woven intricately throughout the ten track album. Unlike her previous effort (The Promised Land), Dar brings us back to the depth of her storytelling and metaphorical abilities, and they work incredibly well. Her songs and lyrics of late have gotten a bit literal in her last two albums, but In the Time of Gods finds Dar using Greek mythology to weave together a series of stories that work as well alone as they do as an album. The standout track for me is Storm King, which can stand out among some of her more deeper and metaphorical tunes (e.g., think Pompeii and February). Equally good are "I am the One Who Will Remember Everything," the loving and touching "I Have Been Around the World," and "The Light and The Sea." If you are a Dar fan, you will like this album. Without a doubt.

Intelligent

A fine writer with fine melodies. What more could you want?

Biography

Born: April 19, 1967 in Mount Kisco, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Dar Williams became a major force on the New England folk scene. An idiosyncratic songwriter who wrote folk songs from a unique, often insightful perspective, Williams took pains to avoid the coy and the quirky; her songwriting and performing style have been compared to those of Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez, but with a few acidic and at times hilarious twists. She was born in Mount Kisco, New York, but raised in Chappaqua, the daughter of medical writer/editor Gray Williams and Marian Ferry, an active...
Full Bio