Presents... The Pond
Listening to the new Kathryn Williams album is akin to one night meeting up with a pal you’ve known for donkeys years, who’s been a solid member of your group, always dependable and completely loved but is the quiet one; unassuming and never bringing trouble to the table but always there to help you through mess and strife because they are kind, earnest, and actually quite wise – and you know it. They simply aren’t as loud. Well, imagine you’ve put the call out, gathered your friends and this particular pal takes their seat and instantly there’s something different about them. They’ve announced themselves, they are starting and carrying conversations, telling jokes, they are enjoying this but at the same time not being cocky. They are drawing attention and inviting new pals to the table and the whole group is elevated through this. Welcome, Kathryn Williams V2.0. Of course, to say The Pond represents an arrival into the world of electronica for KW would be to ignore the fact that throughout her career spanning 9 albums she has often utilised beats and vocal loops to add layers to her music, but from the opening of first track "Carved" we are in no doubt that this is a new realm for the folky songstress. There’s a confidence on show that elevates what might otherwise have resulted in an experimental cross-over album into something else, something fully embraced and committed-to and the result is a 40 minute journey through time and culture (folk, flamenco, African, latin, Gypsy), delivered through a post club prism. Perhaps that’s where comparisons to LemonJelly, Bent, and Mint Royal are aiming for but The Pond occupies a space much closer to the Chemical Brothers early work, the obvious touchstone being collaborations with Beth Orton. While there's nothing here that is going to bother the superclubs without a remix, there is the feeling of fusion, matched by coherence, driven by the desire to build and build that makes you want those remixes to happen. The glue of the 11 tracks is KW’s distinctive folk vocal, but against this backdrop it is transformed from a kind of cardigan-ish “Do you mind if...?” to something else completely different; it’s that new confidence, it’s sultry, smoky, it's not quite hot-pants but it's definitely kinky boots - alluring you to join her party, and you will want to, and you will be better off for it.