Kathryn Williams is Liverpool-born but resides in the fine city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Crown Electric, the company Elvis used to drive for before finding fame, is her tenth album and her first solo record in four years.
The album is the distillation of over sixty songs that were narrowed down to the thirteen we hear on Crown Electric. The album was recorded live in three days at Bryn Derwen Studios in Snowdonia with Neill MacColl as guitarist, bandleader and producer, Lamb’s Jon Thorne on double bass and Cinematic Orchestra’s Luke Flowers on drums. It was mixed by David Wrench with sumptuous strings added later at Ray Davies legendary Konk Studios, arranged and recorded by cellist Ben Trigg (Dexys, UNKLE, Arctic Monkeys). There are collaborations on the record with Ed Harcourt appearing on three of the tunes and James Yorkston on another.
I suppose that Crown Electric will get labelled as being a folk record but that’s not really where I’d position it. It’s a polished pop record with folk undertones, or is it a folk record with pop undertones? Whichever it really is very good indeed – perfect for popping on the hifi and snuggling up on the sofa with a large glass of red as the night’s draw in – it really does bring a warm glow from within.
William’s voice is natural, unforced and confident, her tunes are beautifully crafted and the musical arrangements are nicely understated…though the aforementioned strings really do add a welcome lushness to album as a whole.
The standout tune to my mind is Morning Twilight (with Ed Harcourt) which is a slow piano track that builds and builds with gorgeous strings with the two singers voices complimenting each other beautifully….or do I prefer the very last tune “The Known” with its exquisite organ towards the end, laidback hats and electric piano underpinning William’s wonderful and evocative lyric?
That said there isn’t a tune on here that I wouldn’t happy to play to death!
Crown Electric is a record that feels timeless and I really don’t see it dating unkindly at all – it will be as fresh in ten years time as it is now and I’m sure I’ll be picking this one out to play for years to come – surely a sign of a good recording!
Out now on One Little Indian.