At the time of Josh Williams’ last recording, he’d hit bottom in his personal life. His struggles are known and bear no need for cataloging here. Suffice it to say, six years on the road of recovery and six years of hard work have resulted in this, his second recording.
Williams takes this opportunity to release a rather autobiographical, introspective CD full of songs about getting into problems, getting out of problems, and seeking and finding redemption. There are songs here about loss and heartbreak, as on “Queen Of The County Fair,” one of the best tracks here, during which a boy meets a girl at the fair, has a nice evening, but loses her to someone else. “The Great Divide” is another in that vein, though it takes the heartache up a notch with its look at divorce. “Modern Day Man,” though not about heartache, is in a sense about loss, as in our loss of self in a hectic world. All those and “Always Have, Always Will,” about losing control, can be seen as songs about falling in to problems.
More positive are those that look at getting out of the problems we create, including the obstacle-busting “Let It Go,” Tom T. Hall’s admonition to keep moving on “Another Town,” and the spiritual power of “God’s Plan.” “Sweet Little Boy” and “Prodigal Son” complete the redemption, each with the story of the power of parental love.
The music here is in much the same style as his last record. That one was a strong blend of country and bluegrass, with whip-crack drumming and arrangements as likely to feature pedal steel as it is the banjo. His previous recording was more fun and full of catchy and recognizable tunes. This one is far more emotional and may prove the more enduring in the long run. (Rounder Records, 100 N. Crescent Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210, www.rounder.com.)BW