-->
Music

Andre Williams & The Sadies: Night & Day

Photo: Doug Coombe

Williams's latest batch of gritty, unapologetic blues allows us to walk, a little, in the shoes of a grizzled vet who’s seen it all but is still hungry.


Andre Williams & The Sadies

Night & Day

Label: Yep Roc
US Release Date: 2012-05-15
UK Release Date: 2012-05-21
Amazon
iTunes

R&B/blues musician Andre Williams (born in 1936) has definitely been around. He’s worked with Berry Gordy and (Little) Stevie Wonder, for instance. But he’s also been through hard times—violent altercations, jail terms, drug addictions—a reservoir of living which he draws on in his latest effort, Night & Day. He’s teamed up once again with the psychedelic-country outfit the Sadies to deliver a collection of gritty, unapologetic songs of conflict and perseverance.

The opener “I Gotta Get Shorty Out of Jail” comes off as dirty-lounge blues, Williams’ raspy voice immediately setting the stage. Atmosphere-wise this is hardboiled, rough-and-tumble noir, and I’m reminded of some of Tom Waits’s characters, except that Williams doesn’t seem to be acting “I like my rum ‘cause I ain’t got no teeth / I let it float over my gums / But I got to get Shorty out of jail,” he sings. The theme of incarceration comes up again in the misogynist “Your Old Lady”, where Williams reluctantly offers to “give back” the former lover of an acquaintance (“Charley”) who has recently been released from prison. Williams occasionally zooms out from such immediate dilemmas, as on “America”, where he almost gets political. But the tone here is mostly cowboy/ex-con anomie—Williams appears to be a man who is too strong to turn a new leaf. “I don’t use drugs no more, but I will if I have to,” he defiantly mutters on “Bored”. And “I Thank God” begins as a song of redemption but winds into a meditation on how to get out of jail. “Aint no fun goin’ to jail,” he reminds us.

Williams’s gruff narratives are backed by one heck of a band. The Sadies, masterful songwriters in their own right, offer sizzling support. Their manic-rodeo sound and energy doesn’t just serve as a backdrop, though. They seem at times to push Williams even further, as on the pulsing “One Eyed Jack”. Jon Spencer, Matt Verta-Ray (Heavy Trash), Danny Kroha (The Gories) and Jon Langford (The Mekons) also lend hands, and Sally Timms and Kelly Hogan nicely round things out, their warm harmonies certainly the only signs of sweetness in this hard wasteland. The country-waltz duet between Williams and Timms on “That’s My Desire” is one of the album’s highlights.

Night and Day is not for the faint of heart, and one can only be perplexed by some of Williams’s musings. “The mens are dogs / The women are hogs, but that ain’t a bad thing / It’s better than living in Africa,” he rambles on “America”. I suspect, though, that the fearlessness with which he veers away from the politically correct is one of the reasons he’s developed such a cult following. He seems almost to be making the lyrics up as he goes, a no-holds-barred stream-of-consciousness expression, which is often a treat to witness. We get to walk, a little, with a grizzled vet who’s seen it all and yet is still hungry.

7

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

Scholar Judith May Fathallah's work blurs lines between author and ethnographer, fan experiences and genre TV storytelling.

In Fanfiction and the Author: How Fanfic Changes Popular Culture Texts, author Judith May Fathallah investigates the progressive intersections between popular culture and fan studies, expanding scholarly discourse concerning how contemporary blurred lines between texts and audiences result in evolving mediated practices.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Music

Wadada Leo Smith: Najwa

Photo: Jori Grönroos (Courtesy of TUM Records)

Wadada Leo Smith mixes it up with a psychedelic group of electric power that remains spare: four electric guitars, Bill Laswell's electric bass, drums, and percussion. It sounds like a party and a whisper in alternation.

At this point, the long arc of fascinating music from trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith can't be summarized at the top of a review. He goes back to the early days of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, he has been both a student and a contemporary of masters such as Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, and Muhal Richard Abrams, and he has continued to be a vital creative force to this very day. He is entering his late 70s and shows not signs of slowing down.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Kuinka appeal to ornery Renaissance royalty with a joyous song in their infectiously fun new music video.

With the release of Americana band Kuinka's Stay Up Late EP earlier this year, the quartet took creative steps forward to deftly expand their sound into folk-pop territory. Riding in on the trend of moves made by bands like the Head and the Heart and the National Parks in recent years, they've traded in their raw roots sound for a bit more pop polish. Kuinka has kept the same singalong, celebratory vibe that they've been toting all this time, but there was a fork in the sonic highway that they boldly took this go-around. In this writer's opinion, they succeeded in once again captivating their audience, just in a respectably newfound way.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image