Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Victoria Williams: Sings Some Ol’ Songs

I’ll confess that Victoria Williams’ distinctly offbeat voice has never been my particular cup of tea. That said, I’ll also concede that the folk-pop diva’s craggy cackle, which has always put me in mind of scratchy 78s spinning away in some dusky parlor, is uniquely well suited to the vintage material that fills her aptly titled Sings Some Ol’ Songs (Dualtone). Lending her girlish enthusiasm to the likes of “Blue Skies,” “Over the Rainbow” and “My Funny Valentine,” Williams evokes a bilateral flashback, marrying the whimsical otherworldliness of Tiny Tim to Helen Kane’s cartoonish pucker. Far more interesting are Williams’ less-retro readings of more obscure delights. Working in harmony with such outstanding sidemen as percussionist Danny Frankel and brass master Jon Birdsong, she transforms Oscar Levant’s “Keep Sweeping Cobwebs Off the Moon” into a delightful Dixieland romp, then serves up a suitably bizarre treatment of Eden Ahbez’s far-too-rarely-recorded “Mongoose.” Best of all is a low-key, heartfelt rendition of “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans,” gorgeously punctuated with Birdsong’s burnished coronet solos. Sings Some Ol’ Songs didn’t transform me into a rabid Williams convert (I doubt anything could), but it did manage to make me better appreciate how good she is at marching to that peculiar inner drummer of hers.

Originally Published