Tim Williams - Careful Love
Record Label: Dovecote Records
Release Date: Oct. 20, 2009
After the runaway success of his single "Novel," Brooklyn singer/songwriter Tim Williams leapfrogged to the top of the indie circuit and criss-crossed the country charming both the blogosphere and the nation's myriad hipsters. For his third album, Careful Love, the native New Yorker teamed up once again with British minimalist producer David Lynch, to release a collection of 11 concise reflections about life, death and the pursuit of happiness. That the album comes after Williams' intensive heart surgery makes this disc that much more special.
Opening track "I Hit a Wall" is a fizzy pop cut with light bass, bouncy guitars and gentle drums. The song's warmhearted, carefree vibe is so infectious one can practically feel the stress seeping away by the time the second verse rolls around. Fueled by the lines, "Finally some warm sun, to heal all my new scars, life's what you make it, now I can take it," it has the cheery sentiment down pat. He goes for something more cerebral on "Ozone Street," a contemplative cut that seems to let the lyrics take center stage. Featuring glimmers of electro-funk, the track also features a slight hint of Cure guitar lines and airy keys. On the heels of that is "Oceans," which is the album's surefire radio single, as it coasts along like a wave and has an undeniable hip-shaking quality.
The romance ballad "All In," is a chance to slow down the tempo and its gorgeous, reflective and timeless. Of all the songs Williams has written to date few are as moving and poignant as this one. Quintessential, caustic and elegant, "All In," is a near-homerun. And even though he redundantly repeats the phrase, "You've got me all in," 12 times in the last 45 seconds that simple foible should not dismiss the quality of this song. Wholly arresting and incredibly confident, "All In," is the point at which Careful Love asserts Williams' obvious maturation as a songwriter.
The album dips on "Stilts," although the song's lyrics about escaping the circus on stilts proves that there aren't many singer/songwriters more thought-provoking on the singer/songwriter circuit than him. "Love Hate," is another ho-hum attempt at filler, that's aided by an addictive guitar line that doesn't do all that much. Thankfully he returns to making indelible music on the spine-tingling "Murderous Air," a stark, literary sendup that's chilly, daring and downright intoxicating. "Right All Along," and "8x10," are much like "Stilts," and "Love Hate," in that they don't do so much to bolster the entire effort, but don't exactly flounder either. The disc ends with the meditative "I Want to Die in California," a cerebral and calm meditation on the lure of the Pacific coast and Williams' candid look at mortality.
Loaded with potential and a bevy of carefree, no-frills folk-pop gems, Williams has crafted an easy-to-please collection of songs that continue to bolster the argument that there are few songwriters out there that match his wit. While Careful Love isn't album-of-the-year worthy or even earth-shattering, it's acerbic charms are sure to turn some heads and with his best work still ahead of him, there's a chance the bigger venues will come calling in the very near future.