Brooks Williams,
Little Lion
(Signature Sounds, 2000)

With his guitar work and vocals on nine other albums, Brooks Williams decided to treat his fans to a CD of just guitar instrumentals. What appears to be a very simple album deceptively hides the complex music that makes this album a must-have.

Williams by himself (or accompanied by friend John Daniel on a second guitar) writes music and plays songs with more depth and story than you can find on your radio today -- and this is all without any other instrument involved. His excellent playing in blues, traditional folk, classical and South American styles shows diversity that lends to an excellent overall product. The liner notes contain just enough information about the song to give you an idea of where the songs came from, and this simple approach to the album gives it a classic feel.

While Williams wrote most of the album, he also included tunes that influenced him in some way. For example, "Joyful, Joyful" is his guitar version of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which he played at his wedding. "O Leaozinho" ("Oh Little Lion") and "Asa Branca" ("White Wing") are tunes originally written by Brazilian artists he admires -- Caetano Veloso for "Lion" and Luiz Gonzaga and Humberto Teixeira for "Wing." "Water Song" was originally a Hot Tuna song that Williams risked "certain death" from his older brother to listen to.

Another interesting facet about his liner notes is that some of the songs have the tuning set for the guitar included. As Williams has learned his craft, he pulls double duty teaching the next crop of guitar players theirs.

This is not a soothing work as a whole -- Williams plays soothing ballads, slick blues, and rocking tunes that will get your feet tapping with the beat. It's the perfect album to play at a gathering -- it's not overbearing, but it's good fun. Congratulations to Mr. Williams on a CD that has become a permanent fixture in my playlist.

[ by Timothy Keene ]

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