The Quickening – Kathryn Williams

  • When he sang about White Lines, Lemmy Motorhead was talking about something entirely different... Kathryn Williams' White Lines are the more literal kind you find down the centre of highways leading you through this town into magical road-movie nights of lost direction... to vanish. As she motors, her thoughts dance like sparks in the space where lights dart like fish, with her warm rounded vocal tones enhanced by male-voice studio-engineer Dave Wrench counting out the one-to-fifty white lines vanishing beneath the ambient hiss of her tour-van tyre-tread on tarmac.

    Elsewhere the 1.19-minute Black Oil nudges into a near trip-hop ambience that could be profitably extended into a haunting 20 minutes by some artful re-mixer, yet infuriatingly leaves you wanting more. Kathryn Williams is Liverpool-bred, but Newcastle-based "up north where the sky is bigger," and her eighth studio album, but first for One Little Indian, was cut in Bryn Derwen's North Wales studio "in four days, all live, three takes maximum."

    There are nu-folk sad songs full of weighted silences, Winter Is Sharp in more trad-tones about an errant seafarer, until resonant acoustic bass and chiming vibraphone make Cream Of The Crop a breathy smoky soft-jazz excursion co-written with guitarist David Scott. It's odd - Lily Allen does angsty edgy modern-life-is-rubbish doggerel, while Kathryn's honeyed seductive Wanting & Waitingdoes unrequited lunch-hour crushes for the longed-for love-object amid tower-block chimneys and glass office-buildings.

    To compare and contrast sensibilities, both nudge similar emotional terrain; it's just that Kathryn's occur in more timeless more nuanced contexts. So The Quickening might prompt diverse comparisons, but she conjures something unmistakable and wraps it all around in her uniqueness.