Dar Williams The Green World (Razor & Tie)

The Green World (Razor & Tie)

Dar Williams

The Green World (Razor & Tie)

In recent years, the singer-songwriter genre has grown remarkably flaccid. Songs about the same tired clichés, or perhaps about nothing at all, have become the norm, while most practitioners have wandered far from their folk roots into a region remarkably close to New Age navel-gazing, with often sleep-inducing results. Dar Williams occasionally steers close to this territory on her fourth album, yet more often than not, her attempts at pithy observation are met with a nod of agreement rather than one to dreamland. The Green World finds her traveling the path of folk music once trod by Suzanne Vega, a tip of the hat to the funkiness of Ani DiFranco allowing Williams a distinctiveness that gives her a certain amount of vitality. She even attempts to tie each song here to a running theme: an interpretation of Shakespearean comedies that posits their conflict between the "closed world" -- the orderly life of England's Elizabethan courtesans -- and the "green world," represented by the forest and wilderness where life is unpredictable and chaotic. She's only partially successful, and the songs that are the most lyrically and melodically straightforward stand apart from the rest like night from day. "What Do You Love More Than Love," "I Won't Be Your Yoko Ono," and "Another Mystery" possess a degree of simplicity and display what was attractive in Williams' music in the first place. Elsewhere, attempts at being mystical and evocative fall flat, leaving The Green World a puzzle with some large, mismatched pieces, and ultimately, an unsatisfying listen. (Dar Williams plays La Zona Rosa Friday, October 27.)

** 

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