Dar Williams

End of the Summer

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This could be Dar Williams' best effort yet. Her friends and fans from back in the day might well disagree, since it's also her slickest and most rocking, and old fans tend to get all disgusted when songwriters stop sounding as raw as they did before they learned how to make records. But just listen; where she was clearly working hard to achieve hooks on The Honesty Room, they flow effortlessly here. The eerie radio ode "Are You Out There," a slightly defensive paean to therapy called "What Do You Hear in These Sounds," the gentle and moving "My Friends" -- all of them stick in the mind for days and reveal more with each listen. Yes, it's slick; there are drum loops and timbales and lots of electric guitars, and a huge cast of guest musicians. But slick is only bad when it means soulless, and her soul is in fine shape.

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