While a number of singer/songwriters never have hits per se, they nonetheless create a number of memorable songs over the course of their career. Dead Sea Cafe collects a dozen songs and a couple instrumentals by guitarist/songwriter Brooks Williams, from 1988's "Mystery" to 2000's "Happy All the Time." Williams' warm vocals and skilled guitar work make him a double threat to other singer/songwriters. The rolling guitar kick-off at the beginning of "Seven Sisters" renders it immediately likable, while the tasteful slide guitar of the "Wanderer's Song" combines the best of the Mississippi Delta with a more modern sensibility. Williams utilizes a number of guitar tunings to give each song/instrumental a rich, acoustic sound. Arrangements of "Late Night Train" and "Island Sailor" add touches of organ and drums, but the sound remains, primarily, acoustic. Lyrically, Williams has a penchant for poetic and, occasionally, unusual phrases. "Caves of Missouri" begins with "strange light at sunset, minutes from night/nuclear-red horizon nearly blinds me with half-light." Clearly a dark story is about to unfold. On the instrumental front, the groovy "When the Dentist Dreams" is filled with lovely cascades and a bouncy clean sound. "Before Coffee" begins like a Bach harpsichord piece, only to dip into a bluesy romp that pays homage to Django Reinhardt. So, whether one enjoys good songwriting or apt fingerpicking, Dead Sea Cafe offers a fine introduction to the work of Brooks Williams.
AllMusic Review by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.