Dar Williams

The Honesty Room

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This, Dar Williams' first full-length album, was originally released on her own private label and was then picked up by the tiny but prestigious indie folk label Waterbug Records. In its Razor & Tie incarnation, The Honesty Room is a bit more rocked-up, which, frankly, has generally proven to be a good thing for the music of Dar Williams. Although she is a lyricist of striking originality and endearing humor, and although she can craft a hooky tune with the best of them, there's still a certain preciousness that creeps in when she's not being careful -- she has always sung with the light, fluttery consonants and flattened vowels that make so many of today's female singer/songwriters sound like 13-year-olds, and when that vocal approach combines with an unaccompanied acoustic guitar and lines like "Once upon a time there was a nuclear family," well, it's hard not to let your eyes roll. But on the other hand, when an all-out rock song combines a gorgeous singalong melody with lyrical references to Ronald Reagan and Sid Vicious in the very first line, you know you've stumbled across something very special, and you tend not to notice the quirks of delivery so much. And then there's "The Babysitter's Here," a song that manages to deal simultaneously with early childhood and incipient adulthood, and it will make you bawl every time you hear it.

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