Updated 12:00 PM ET January 19, 2001
By Jen O'Neill
(U-WIRE) NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Victoria Williams' latest release, Water to Drink, is a rare mix of folk and blues that can only truly be experienced by a thorough listen to the album in its entirety. There is no way to fully describe Williams' light, almost child-like voice, although at times it resembles the classic folk drawl of Janis Joplin or the achingly tender expression of Billie Holiday. Water to Drink was recorded in Joshua Tree, Calif., where Williams and her husband Mark Olson, a former member of the Jayhawks, have their own recording studio.
Water to Drink is an album full of ethereal melodies that remain in the listener's head hours after hearing them. Williams had originally planned to make this an album of cover songs, a tribute to her favorite jazz artists.
After being encouraged to write more of her own material, Water to Drink became a combination of Williams' fresh new songs and some classical standards. Each song oozes with emotion, so that even her interpretations of the classics are given her own characteristic touch.
"Gladdys and Lucy" is a very catchy song that reflects the happy simplicity of Williams' musical attitude. The whimsical lines, "A new day for you, a new day for me, walking on these hills," characterizes the uncomplicated joy of the song. Williams wrote it about a woman and a dog she met on a sunny day.
The melodious "Joy of Love" is one of the album's highlights. The smooth, airy piano creates a feeling of lightness, and Williams' sweet Indie-sounding voice and soulful delivery simply floats over the music. She says, "The joy of love is a joy for all,/ and the joy of hope is a joy for all./ The hope of love is a hope for all,/ and the hope for joy is a hope for all."
"Young at Heart" is done in a charming way, with Williams' cracking voice making the classic blues song more emotional and more personal. The same personal quality can be heard on "Until the Real Thing Comes Along." Making her voice deeper and jazzy, Williams invokes her listeners to fall in love with her unique style of music. She croons the words that Sinatra simply sang in a highly expressive and sincere manner: "I would rob, steal, beg, borrow and lie for you./ Lay my little body down and die for you."
While on tour with Neil Young in 1992, Williams was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She was facing expensive treatments and had no health insurance, but her tour with Neil Young had helped her gain respect and admiration from other musicians. In 1993, artists such as Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Soul Asylum and Matthew Sweet recorded an album covering Williams' songs called "Sweet Relief" and directed the proceeds go towards her medical bills.
"Sweet Relief" was a success, and Williams' Multiple Sclerosis was kept in check. In 1996, Williams, extremely grateful for the help she had received, founded the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, which has provided $500,000 of assistance to musicians in need of medical assistance.
Victoria Williams is currently on tour in support of Water to Drink. She is scheduled to play in Nashville Feb. 10 at 12th and Porter.
(C) 2001 Vanderbilt
Hustler via U-WIRE