Beguiling British songstress Kathryn Williams returns with her 11th studio album, the sonically adventurous and thematically ambitious Hypoxia. The album, which was co-produced by Ed Harcourt, is based on Sylvia Plath's 1963 novel The Bell Jar. Approached in 2013 to write some songs based on Plath for the Durham Book Festival's celebration of the author's work (and the 50th anniversary of The Bell Jar's publication), Williams reconnected with the novel and its haunted, semi-autobiographical protagonist. She initially completed five songs, which she performed at a reading by author Andrew Wilson from his book Mad Girl's Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted. While she hadn't intended to base an entire album on Plath, the subject continued to inspire her and before long she had added three more songs, with a fourth one, the album's lead single "Cuckoo" co-written by Harcourt. Dark-toned and heavily atmospheric, Hypoxia's production recalls some of the textures from her 2012 release The Pond.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger