By: Bill Clifford
Keller Williams is one of the most prolific musicians on the scene today. Whether or not you're a fan of his one-man band solo performances, his performances with his on again, off again band the WMDS, his collaborations with The Keels, The String Cheese Incident, Dark Star Orchestra or Jeff Austin, among others, you've got to admire his work ethic as he's almost always on the road performing. And whether you are a fan of his songwriting or not, you've got to admire that he's the epitome of a true independent musician. In 15 years, he's got 16 CDs to his credit, if you include his collaborations.
Williams' latest platter, ODD (released August 4 on SCI Fidelity), won't do much to change most people's opinion one way or another. If you're a fan, you'll be glad he's finally gotten around to releasing polished and well-produced studio recordings of some songs that he's been performing in concert for years ("Groove of the Storm" and "Doobie In My Pocket"). But, if you've been on the fence about Williams and are looking for a studio recording to become familiar with his music, ODD might not be the best first choice to turn you onto his music.
It's not that it's a bad recording, just, well, odd. That said, it is quintessential Keller Williams. Opener "Environmental Song" mixes drum samples, acoustic guitars and echoed vocals on a short pop nugget. The lyrical premise here is that life is short, so enjoy it while you can. "A Day At The Office" describes Williams' life on the road, comparing it to stacking cabbage, and then poking fun the folded Blender Magazine editorial staff that pan his recordings.
His quirky sense of humor is fully intact here. On "Elephorse" he writes from a dream state about being a heroic dragon slayer of sorts from another era. "Warning" is a late night piano lounge tune, where he pines to be able to offer households pests – kamikaze birds flying into windows, mice who die under his fridge, rabbits in the yard – a warning to stay away from the blue pellets and his cat. With piano that sounds as though Linus is accompanying him, it's easily the most entertaining cut on this collection. The aforementioned "Doobie In My Pocket" is a fun listen, but it lacks the soul of hearing him perform it live and stretch it out a bit with improvisation.
And that's kind of the point. Odd is a fine enough recording, one that hardcore Williams fans will want to add to their collection, but it lacks the soul of a live performance or any of his recordings with other musicians.
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