Dar Williams

No longer just an Earthy-crunchy songstress with a clever bent (her token song about marijuana, "College Girl," both extols and debases it), Dar Williams finally gained some depth through fuller arrangements and a deeper exploration of herself on 2003's The Beauty of the Rain. "The World's Not Falling Apart," one of the album's key songs, bridged her inner issues with ones both more and less worldly while still pulsing under her capable but unadorned voice. Williams' newest release, My Better Self, does the title a slight disrespect by featuring covers that mostly outshine the originals, but her reworking of "Comfortably Numb," cast as a duet with compatriot Ani DiFranco, provides a glint of what Williams is capable of. Still, Williams' gift for character development and ability to describe slices of life with heart-breaking accuracy far overshadow any temporary misstep.
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Sander Wolf