Astrid Williamson

Carnation

  • AllMusic Rating
    8
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Williamson's first LP since parting ways with Nude is a decidedly more stripped-down affair, based mostly on her acoustic guitar or piano and singing. Mind you, on roughly half of these ten cuts, she and new co-producer/engineer Robert White (ex-Levitation) indulge in the more luscious, luxurious full backing (with light danceable beats that give her some swing) that compete with her frankly extraordinary voice so well -- in the Boy for You manner. Foremost of these is the LP's standout, "To Love You," which borrows the first nine words of the chorus lyric, if not the melody, of the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody." To behold her golden voice is to stand back in wonderment; it's no mystery why former Smiths star Johnny Marr asked her to sing on so many tracks on Electronic's last LP. And as before, her tune is impossibly catchy, while her arrangement is impeccably soulful. The piano break in the middle, a real specialty of hers, sets up a chiming E-Bow lead that just gets under the skin before two or three Williamsons start singing at once. Just behind it are the chill-quiet of "Calling" and the piano-only beauty "Tumbling into Blue." There are tastes of these elements all over this disc, if not as plentiful as the more generally involved Boy for You. Williamson errs by leaving the scathing "Girlfriend" and the banging "Lucky" in their skeletal, unplugged format. If only they were given the fleshed-out "I Am the Boy for You" or "Hosanna" treatment! But, as is true of most great songs, they're still compelling sans rhythm section, which is also true of three or four other numbers. Without doing anything radical, Williamson falls back time and time again on the deep expression of her Shetland-born voice, a full, round, breathy throat that just captures, and with such range of feeling.

blue highlight denotes track pick