Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Tim Williams belongs to the class of tender-hearted, folk-tinged indie musicians that includes the likes of Ben Kweller, Josh Rouse, and Loney, Dear. And if When Work Is Done is any indication, he's got what it takes to turn more than a few heads in the indie world: this is an earnest, well-crafted album, grounded with equal parts rustic grit and quirky sparkle. This is only his second album and his first "big" indie release on Dovecote, and it bears the markings of U.K.-based producer Dave Lynch's handiwork -- Williams' heartbroken, country-ish demeanor is counterbalanced with sparkling indie pop arrangements (including the requisite glockenspiels and some surprisingly twangy melodicas) and some smooth-but-not-too-smooth production, and it all comes off pleasantly enough. Williams is at his best on breezy, easygoing tracks like "Novel" and "To and from Tomorrow"; one gets the sense that he's a heartbroken kind of guy, and it seems like he almost requires a peppy tempo to keep things from spiraling into drowsy doldrums. The major issue with When Work Is Done is that it suffers from a little sogginess; the final quarter of the album is almost overwhelmingly mellow, erring on the side of being just a tad more soporific than soothing, and it hurts the album. This isn't to say that Williams can't pull off a low-tempo song; as lilting, haunting tracks like "I Am Wearing It" and "Lessons" show, Williams is capable of crafting a mellow song with enough buoyancy and energy to prevent it from dipping into boggy territory. And these soggy spots wouldn't be such an issue if the album weren't so short; it's 11 tracks long, but it clocks in at a little over half an hour, and as a result the so-so tracks seem more pronounced. Ultimately, it seems like whatever flaws When Work Is Done has boil down to a matter of pacing: if the high-energy songs had been dispersed more evenly, the album would probably feel a lot less bottom-heavy. In spite of this, When Work Is Done has enough sprightly, winning stuff to warrant a listen or two, and tracks like "Novel" and "To and from Tomorrow" harness the kind of delectable indie pop spark that makes them at the very least mixtape-worthy.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Margaret Reges