Don Williams: And So It Goes

Don Williams *And So It Goes*  Sugar Hill Records

Drops: June 19th 

If Don Williams doesn’t have one of the most evocative, nuanced voices in the history of country music, I’m a virgin Pope.  And his sensibilities, his talent to observe the simplest of things and find their momentous import?  Phenomenal.  If you don’t get that, you might be a pet rock.  Williams has long been that rare breed of artist who, while occasionally writing songs of their own, can make a living breathing life and passion into tracks straight from other writers’ pens.  Not an easy thing to do, as evidenced by the utter lack of beauty, intelligence, and worth emanating from Music Row these days.  Any fool can get a spiffy haircut, glue some sparkles on his jeans, buy some godawful boots and use AutoTune to belt out somebody else’s song in hopes of making the soccer moms wet.  It takes some actual talent, though, to get down inside the bones of a song and make its beating heart come alive.  George Strait’s done that exceptionally well for a day or two now, and Williams fits quite easily into that bucket as well.

The big man with the gentle voice and quiet heart has been making music since the ‘60s, and has legions of fans around the world as testament to his ability to connect on a visceral, powerful level.  And So It Goes, Williams’ first new record in eight years, just adds to the legacy.  This isn’t a throwaway album cluttered with nonsensical guest appearances and intended primarily as a vehicle to drive someone else’s career.  (Think here of that so-called Waylon tribute record that stunk up your local Wal-Mart in February of 2012).  There are some guests on this one, notably Allison Krauss and Vince Gill.  For some reason Keith Urban makes an appearance as well, but it’s not a perfect world and there can’t be an explanation for everything.  That said, And So It Goes is undeniably a Don Williams offering.

There’s not a rousing, driving “Tulsa Time.”  Instead, there’s the slowly pulsating throb underpinning a track called “Infinity” that drives home a sense of all the wonder, awe, mystery, joy, and inquisitive fear that the universe can provide.  There’s a “First Fool In Line,” which sounds an awful lot like something Strait would’ve taken to #1 in the mid to late ‘80s.  The title track, meanwhile, puts a lush background instrumental to a melody reminiscent of Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Long Old Dusty Road” – but the lyrics drive home exactly what happens if we fail to notice and treasure the small things JJW reveled in with his ode to Susan and home:

And so it goes

While we were busy with the details of our lives

Every day

Thinking time was on our side

I turned around

And you were gone

And I’m left here with the words

I never got around to saying

I don’t know why

I guess I never thought

Our time could pass us by

There’s a beauty coursing throughout the track list like a woodland stream bringing life to a meadow.  It’s irrepressible, undeniable even when the lyrics are heart rending.  An honest listen leaves a sense that now maybe Don knows exactly what the world does with its good old boys, and that as winter comes there’s beauty and quiet strength in the realization that the present threw its worst and somehow we’re still here.  The future stretches out ahead offering more lessons to learn and small things to bring wonder to calloused hearts.  The past lies open behind us full of memories, of tears, of laughter and of love.  It’s all life, and if it’s lived gently, lived truly, lived well….it’s more than enough.  That, after all, is exactly how it goes.

www.don-williams.com for details, info on Don, and more.

The record drops in the U.S. on June 19th.

~ Dave Pilot

Dave Pilot lives in north Texas with his first good wife (don’t ask about the other one), seven horses, and five dogs.  When his wife’s not looking, he tries to figure out ways to feed the 987 or so cats to the coyotes out behind the fenceline.  When he’s not trying to raise his kids to turn out better than he did, he’s hitting historical sites on his way to honky-tonks from Denton to Port Aransas. Visit Dave Pilot on Facebook.

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