Jessica Williams has built a following with her introspective style of solo piano. Songs of Earth compiles performances from several years of her appearances at The Triple Door in Seattle, most of which were improvised on the spot. "Deayrhu" (a title she admits that she can't explain) is a fluid, shimmering work with several dramatic shifts. The bittersweet undercurrent of "Poem" (a written composition) is ever present, supported by its pacing bassline. "Montoya" salutes the great Spanish classical guitarist; one can easily imagine this moving classically flavored piece being arranged for his instrument. "Joe and Jane" is Williams' powerful salute to the considerable sacrifices of men and women who serve in the various branches of the U.S. military. Its brooding air gives it the feeling of a requiem, though it was surprisingly improvised rather than written out. Her superb "The Enchanted Loom" pulses with energy, adding a bit of string strumming for effect and eventually evolving into a raga setting, with Williams playing dazzling improvisations with her right hand, accompanied by her droning bassline. John Coltrane's "To Be," penned rather late in his career, is rarely recorded. Williams dives into his demanding work, playing darting improvised lines that blend raga and free jazz in her extended finale. This beautifully recorded collection with appreciative and quiet audiences represents one of Jessica Williams' best releases in her vast discography.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden