Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
End of the Summer
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock
Dar Williams's End of the Summer finds her following in the techno-folkie footsteps of Suzanne Vega and Rickie Lee Jones. Most of the tracks feature muscular rhythms provided by Sammy Merendino's programmed drum loops, and... more »
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Dar Williams's End of the Summer finds her following in the techno-folkie footsteps of Suzanne Vega and Rickie Lee Jones. Most of the tracks feature muscular rhythms provided by Sammy Merendino's programmed drum loops, and thickened textures provided by layers of electric and acoustic guitars. This new approach pays dividends for a singer/songwriter whose thin soprano and coffeehouse lyrics have often proven underwhelming in the past. Here she is encouraged by producer Steven Miller to cram as many words as possible into the herky-jerky verses and then release the tension with a chorus of simple statements and catchy melody. This allows her to run verbal riffs on slackers in "Party Generation," on therapy in "What Do You Hear in These Sounds," and on middle age in "Teenagers, Kick Our Butts." Some of these riffs are witty and some aren't, but they pay off in satisfying refrains where Williams's wispy voice is surrounded by belt-it-out harmony singers. While the title tune is Williams at her dreary, maudlin worst, another ballad, "If I Wrote You" (with harmonies by Shindell), proves the techno-folkie formula can work even at slow tempos. --Geoffrey Himes
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No weak spots!
boy_howdy | Northfield, MA United States | 01/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yes, this is an amazing album, with sweet harmonies, intelligent and poetic lyrics, great storytelling, and some excellent production -- not too sweet or pop-oriented, but full and rich. Although those who have listened to Dar in the Northampton Folk scene on her rise to stardom often prefer her earlier, more raw works, I think this album represents, finally, the full blossom of her musicianship. Some of Dar's best songs are here; the album contains gems all the way through, from the beautiful ballad "If I wrote you" with vocals added by Richand Shindell to radio favorites "What do you Hear in These Sounds" (also known as "the therapy song") and "Are You Out There." But the album is especially impressive because the whole THING bears repeated listening, over and over and over and over....don't miss the deep cuts: even the weakest songs here, like "Teenagers Kick our Butts," make for a fun romp; "My Friends" and "Party Generation" are amazing, too. Rather than rehashing what other reviews have said, I leave it at this: Dar's voice takes some getting used to -- like Sarah McLachlan, Dar "breaks" funny when going for the high notes, so her voice can sound weak and feathery when lyrics might otherwise call for emphasis -- but like a fine wine, this is a taste worth getting used to. Buy this album for any reason -- if you've never heard Dar before, if someone recommended her to you, if one your friends told you this was her weakest album (they're wrong; it's just more subtle than many realize), or if you just plain like good music. You won't be disappointed."
Different than past albums...
amandaecho | Sun Prairie, WI United States | 02/21/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The End of the Summer marks a change in Dar's music. While having some acoustic tracks ("The End of the Summer") this album focuses more upon working with the studios to produce a "different" sound that comes off a little uncharacteristic of Dar Williams. The thing is, it still works. The lyrics in this album are all-around phenomenal. "What do you hear in these sounds?" is a great song and anyone who's ever gone to therapy knows the simple truth she speaks. I have never been able to find another artist with lyrics quite so simple and yet meaningful. This album reaches closer to pop than the two previous albums (Mortal City and The Honesty Room) as well as the most recent (The Green World). I know she has been critsized for her deviation from the classic folk acoustic feel of her first albums that appears here, but i enjoy it. It's perhaps doesn't invoke the same impact as her acoustic songs...but it's very upbeat on the whole and fun to listen to. I recommend this CD highly...perhaps as a transition from pop to folk, but remember, The Green World and The Honesty Room are even better."
Still the same Dar: Insightful, acidic and yea, cute
dev1 | Baltimore | 10/08/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was captivated by The Honesty Room, so I thought that I'd give End Of The Summer a try. I liked the intimacy of The Honesty Room: just Dar and I in a room with Dar singing to and for me alone. Makes one feel very special. End Of The Summer is as enchanting as The Honest Room, but for different reasons. Gone is the one-on-one rapport, the sparse "folk" atmosphere, and the "ain't she so cute" poetic lines. If artists knew how to stay amateurs and naive forever, they just might choose to do so. So far, I know of none (including Dar Williams) who have managed this feat.End Of The Summer is not a one hundred eighty degree departure from coffee house folk, nor a total embrace of rock & roll and grand production - the progression is a matter of degree. `Are You Out There,' `What Do You Hear In These Sounds,' `Teenagers Kick Your Butts' and `Better Things' are instrumentally rich and musically dynamic bouncing folk-rockers. `Party Generation' may be a salute to carefree days past. I'm a bit dismayed with the `Ugly American' tone of `Bought And Sold,' but the song does contain an ounce or two of rational.Despite its slick sheen, End Of The Summer contains enough solo acoustic folk to remind one that this is the work of a contemporay balladeer (If I Wrote You, The End Of The Summer, My Friends, It's A War In There). Dar has dropped all her "signature" lines? Certainly not: "Are you out there, can you hear this, Jimmy Olson, Johnny Memphis" (Are You Out There). Who, except Dar, has mentioned these names during the past thirty years of popular music. The line is simple but, as Dar's other compositions, unrivaled.Artists such as Suzanne Vega, Christine Lavin, and Joni Mitchell have progressed beyond their initial debuts, and so has Dar Williams. Gee, this isn't Chrissie Hynde. It's still the same Dar: insightful, acidic and yea, cute."