Don Williams

New Moves/Traces

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This 2011 BGO collection pairs Don Williams’ 1986 album New Moves and its 1987 follow-up, Traces, the two albums he recorded for Capitol after a long, long stretch at Dot/ABC/MCA. Produced by Williams and his longtime associate Garth Fundis, New Moves is decidedly on the pop side of the country-pop scale, particularly in its smoothly addictive lead single “Heartbeat in the Darkness,” a Dave Loggins and Russell Smith co-write. This slickness extends to the purer country moments here, including the sprightly two-step “Send Her Roses,” and the album’s appeal is its polish, how Williams glides along the surface and lends this collection of strong tuneful pop some genuine warmth. Arriving just a year later, Traces strips away much of the gloss of New Moves, leaving behind a soft, gentle country-pop record where the acoustic guitars are in the forefront and the synthesizers are used as background coloring. This isn’t always true -- the soft rock crossover “Running Out of Reasons to Run” relies on every production trick of the mid-‘80s, complete with punchy horns, insistent keyboards, and squawking echoing guitars -- but overall, Traces feels more intimate than its predecessor, both in its production and its selection of songs, which emphasizes dreamy ballads over tuneful hooks. Generally, this means Traces fades into the background, never quite catching the ear like the candied New Moves, but as romantic relaxation, it isn’t bad, and this BGO two-fer is a nice roundup of Williams’ lone two albums for Capitol.

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