CD REVIEW: Chuck Williams - Lighting in a Bottle
By: Zack Kiley
Strenghts: Lyrics, musical structure
Weakness: Vocal presence
Chuck Williams and “Lightning in a Bottle” is a tour de force in folk style songwriting and country sound. Released in 2010, this 10 track CD, his fifth studio offering, boasts over 40 minutes of introspective, folk songwriting at its finest, his latest offering shows that even New England can produce some top notch folk writers.
“Lightning in a Bottle” opens with an energetic tune know as Steam Train Maury. Although the track lacks drums and a rhythm section, the energy and melody are quickly something that becomes catchy and unique. The 4th track, titled “Honkytonks & Roadhouses”, present a strong rhythm and melody section, where Chuck Williams shines in his slower, more melodic songwriting. The technical playing of the guitar, although may sound like standard strumming, show that Mr. Williams has a talent when playing a 6 string, with subtle nuances and distant electric guitar playing. Track 7, “Summer Fun” opens with a feel-good tone and a thought of that old country boy’s type sound. Slight percussion accent his guitar playing and vocal melodies. I found myself, at times, slapping my knee along to his unique style and songwriting. Mr. Williams gets slow and intimate with Track 9, “She Cried” and it’s blend of lyrical content and melody create a strong piece of music full of emotion and something we can all relate to at one point in our busy lives.
While Chuck Williams has a strong songwriting style, I found his vocals sometimes buried beneath the guitar playing. I wanted the vocals to cut through at the chorus and bridges, really driving home his signature style. The lack of rhythm parts (whether the artist’s intention or just an oversight) on the first 3 songs hurt the albums overall presentation. Starting with song 4, rhythm and guitar/harmonica/fiddle parts really start to become an overall part of his sound. While only a handful of songs lack this quality, it is the remaining songs that truly stand out as special and really capture the listener. I also found the same key of singing used throughout the album, which may be Chuck Williams sound, but I wanted to hear a few songs with him getting a bit more intimate, with vocals and lyrics being more a primary focus in the overall sound of the album
My final thoughts are this … his sound is strong, his melody’s over his guitar strumming, though may not cut through the mix at times as I would have hoped, serve as a strong force none the less. With a few more developed rhythm parts in the first few songs and more introspective Chuck Williams to really shine in his deep, intimate songs, would prove him to be a strong, outstanding musical force in a now crowded genre of would-be singer/songwriters with southern influences.
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