Dar Williams 'Emerald' - Bread & Butter

This is the ninth release from Dar Williams and comes three years after her excellent In the Time of Gods collection. We are treated to the usual high standard of literate songs, dealing with a variety of subjects, all produced and delivered with great empathy and warmth. Dar Williams has always displayed finely honed observational skills and her compass for matters of the heart has always pointed straight at the life issues that we all face.

Two tracks in particular deal with the daily challenge of living in the world and coping with the everyday stresses, both internal and external. Weight of the World is a cover version of a Kat Goldman song and is delivered in a sensitive arrangement that asks that we lay our burdens down. Something to Get Through has a similar theme and asks that we be kind to ourselves when feeling depressed or overwhelmed by life and just look to another day and the possibility of a brighter sky.

Mad River is a look at youthful rites of passage and the reality of growing up into the life we experience. FM Radio is the most commercial song included here, with a catchy chorus and lyrics to reflect the joy of youth, listening to the radio and enjoying the world. Slippery Slope is a wry look at marriage, with Jim Lauderdale guesting, and deals with our ability to survive relationships and make them endure.

New York is a Harbour is a considered tribute to the Big Apple and the sweet and sour magnetic pull that surrounds it. Empty Plane is a wonderfully understated song that talks of the experience in leaving family in order to work and then returning to the routine of a normal life. The production duties are shared by Dar and a selection of musical friends across the eleven tracks. The arrangements are very bright and the players add subtle colours that complement the song structures. 

Richard Thompson, Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright Roche, Will Ackerman, Jill Sobule and the Milk Carton Kids add their talents to the list of famous names that come out on a regular basis to celebrate the gifts that Dar Williams brings to her musical vista of our lives. A great release and a further proof of the consistency high quality output from this mature, sophisticated song writer.