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David Williams - Chocolate Bar (Trapdoor Media)

Star rating: 

The follow up to THE CRAZY KIND, the album that marked Williams' transition from award winning children's performer to grown up performer status comes in the form of CHOCOLATE BAR, fourteen self-penned songs that straddle the boundaries of bluegrass, blues, gospel, western swing, and mountain folk. Taking care of guitar, mandolin and banjo Williams is joined by Lauren Ashley Stovall on vocals, Paul Kitteck on fiddle, Ondrej Sramek on bass, Karen Carroll on percussion, together collaborating on a collection of songs that reflect the modern American landscape.

The abundance of lyrics seems to suggest that Williams wants to get a lot off his chest, whether it be a rambling memoir of the Swinging Sixties in Worldly Love, challenging the old thing about those who remember the Sixties not actually being there, or the uncompromising Human/Inhuman, which asks the burning question 'is everyone an asshole in disguise?'

There are shades of Doc Watson in places, most notably on Old Death, which adopts the traditional Shady Grove groove and similarly Townes Van Zandt in the album's closing song Big Blue Rock, with a vocal that has all the frailty of anything from Van Zandt's autumn years. Williams' humour comes through sporadically, particularly on the title song Chocolate Bar, with its classic double entendre and on You Can't Catch Me and Got To Go To Heaven.

Throughout the record Williams provides some tasty flat-pick guitar at times as well as accompanying the songs with a gentle finger-picked style, notably on Dropped Your Comb, which has an unavoidable similarity to Dylan's Buckets of Rain, testament to the years of studying the work of gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky