Amanda Jo Williams sounds entirely out of place and time. A musician born and raised in Hogansville, Georgia she has been likened to classic country stars such as Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris for her countrified drawl and raw, ragged musical approach. But it’s her voice that really makes her stand out from the LA crowd she now finds herself playing before multiple nights of the week. It resonates the joyous carefree manner of a child: “[my] heart just flows out” she states. For Williams her music “[is] about feeling good, being free, being open, very childlike, and it’s always about love.”
Moving from Georgia to Woodstock, NY as a teenager, and then over to LA in 2008; where she played Manimal Vinyl’s Spaceland residency; she has been toiling the earth creating organic psych-folk with her band Army of Love and too as a solo musician. It was her debut solo recording Yes I Will, Mr Man, which exposed a voice capable of drawing a balance between the witch’s squeal, a child’s high pitched mimic and Southern intonations…and one just as wide in range as it is in influence. She follows it up with Mary’s Big Feet at the end of the month.
This sophomore follow up plays out like a joyous kids record with a slightly psych-folk feel, mainly comprising Williams’ intriguing vocals, acoustic guitar and occasional, sporadic drum beats. From the bouncing opening of nonsensical, yet loveable, vocal utterances which make up ‘Homeheart’, to the muddied dirge drum thump of ‘Heartache’, along to track ‘Blue Toy Airplane’ to which her kids add background vocals and giggles, her record possesses an abundance of lightheartedness and a carefree air.
Without taking a listen this could perhaps be lost in translation for sounding a little Kimya Dawson-esque for Williams’ similar nursery-rhyme style two minute songs, but she can flit from these moments of exuberant joy and heartache quite easily as ‘Waiting for You’, with just vocals and a child’s guitar, proves. ‘The Bear Eats Me’ despite comic titling possesses darker qualities; an Angela Carter style of storytelling that twists a tale of a girl and menagerie of animals into an almost creepy morphing of vocals and sinister piano interjections.
A cute and quirky album of lofi, homegrown and heartfelt sounds. As much as all this is a fun, breezy ride however we’re pretty certain from the rave cult like status reviews she has been receiving Stateside; that Amanda Jo Williams’ recordings are just the icing on the cake, a little take home gift. The heart and soul of her work is on the stage it seems.
Review by Melanie McGovern
Amazon UK: Mary’s Big Feet