by Jim Blum
If you were to ask a contemporary songwriter to pass a test these are some of the qualities you’d probably be expecting: Thoughtful viewpoints, a variety of subjects, catchy melodies, impressive playing, passionate singing, and unusual arrangements. This is really not a lot to ask of our contributors, but not everybody can deliver. Jack Williams certainly can, and after sampling another stellar release, it’s a wonder why he is not known in the north as well as he is in the south.
The album begins with its title song – a directive on how to make choices, regardless of the circumstances. He can play country blues with ease – sample “Bad Feeling.” Jack offers insight into the plight of the homeless; “Hand Me Down” was written for a play.
He is funny, even when carrying a sharp stick: “Cavewoman Betty” is a curiosity about a Neanderthal female time traveling to witness modern man; “When You’re Gone” makes it clear that the world will probably do fine without you. Towards the end the album offers a perfect wedding song: “No Longer Headed Nowhere.”
A highlight is “Atlantis Going Down,” a spirited and critical analogy to Hurricane Katrina. Half way in, his arrangement surprises you with a little New Orleans Jazz. William’s use of a bluesy back up chorus with the deep bass voice of Wayne Manning cleverly emphasizes and entertains in many of these songs.
Though Jack is being played on Folk Alley, he may not be on your frontal lobe. Find any of his CDs and you won’t be disappointed.