Mercury nominated and critically acclaimed folk artist Kathryn Williams has teamed up with revered jazz musician and vibraphone player Anthony Kerr, to create an album of complete re-imaginings of classic jazz standards, including brand new single ‘Autumn Leaves‘. Previously performed by greats such as Eva Cassidy, Doris Day, Edith Piaf and Frank Sinatra, Kathryn and Anthony’s version of the infamous song is hushed and delicate – Williams’ signature vocal tip-toes over lush, rich vibraphones.
Williams’ forthcoming album ’Resonator’ strips away the bombast of previous versions of much-loved songs such as ”My Funny Valentine” and ”Stormy Weather”, leaving them exposed and yearning – exuding a dream-like and hypnotic luminosity.
The intent was to ‘reclaim’ these wonderful songs that have seen multiple cover versions over the years and rearrange them, bringing them back to their most rudimentary state -rebuilding them to make fresh of what has been heard so much. Kathryn and Anthony have revealed true beauty in these old songs, with their fragile delivery both vocally and instrumentally; Williams’ signature vocals enriched by soft, lush vibraphones, distant jazz trumpet, and double bass.
The pair were introduced six years ago through composer Kate St John, and Anthony went on to play on Kathryn’s first release via One Little Indian, ‘The Quickening’. They came up with an idea of re-working a collection of jazz standards and began to put the wheels in motion – meeting up to demo ideas and recreate countless versions of the songs. In Kathryn’s words: “I was imagining the songs as tired horses who had been whipped by big egos and we were taking them in, taking off their saddles and setting them free in a field.”
Kathryn isn’t new to unique collaborations. The prolific musician has previously worked and toured with John Martyn, Chris Difford (Squeeze), Bombay Bicycle Club, David Gray, Ray Lamontagne, and made two further albums as a member of bands The Crayonettes and The Pond. However, she says that Anthony’s knowledge of jazz is boundless in comparison to her own. Kathryn grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker, and Charlie Byrd, although she wouldn’t claim to be an aficionado of the genre. And this only serves to make these re-imagined songs more interesting than they ever could have been had we heard two masters of jazz re-write and perform them. Kathryn brings elegance and vulnerability to the record, searching for the heart of every song and laying it bare.
The critically lauded singer-songwriter doesn’t stick to a tried and tested formula when she writes a new album. Last year saw the celebrated musician release “Hypoxia” – an album inspired by Slyvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (read our review here), to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Plath’s life and work. The singer-songwriter collaborated with trailblazing musician Ed Harcourt and also wrote a track (Cuckoo) on the album. And Williams has been known to work tirelessly to push herself outside of her comfort zone and reassess pre-conceived ideas about where her music ‘fits’. Increasingly Kathryn finds herself leaning towards the unknown. Her motto is: “The need to make something is reason enough.”
Resonator is out on November 18th via One Little Indian