Even when she’s on East Coast domestic duty raising three kids, Amanda Jo Williams remains an enigmatic L.A. musical mainstay. Over a decade into her wild tenure, most are at a loss of where to put her, how to describe her, and how to process such lines as “I need a fire in my chest and blood in my pee to urinate.” Known to scoff at tags like “freak-folk” and “alt-country” by merely starring at you in scolding confusion with the same steely eyes that were once captured by flashbulbs in the NYC modeling world, she proves over again that she’s far too feral for the easily digestible grooming of genre shackles. But one eyeball/ear full of the dust her and her gang kick up at such off the beaten left-hand path venues like The Echo Country Outpost (where she has taken the role of undisputed mascot and spiritual leader) is all one needs to connect the quivering dots.
On her fourth LP, “You’re The Father Of My Songs”, AJW returns armed with her trusty Olvera Street-kiddy guitar, the psychedelic traced guitars of 5-track (AJW, Glass Goblin), tribal percussion of Lauren Fay (AJW, Raw Geronimo), and this time, some cream of the crop L.A. stalwarts - John Frusciante, Fool’s Gold multi-instrumentalist Brad Caulkins, and Laena Geronimo of Raw Geronimo and Dante Vs. Zombies. And to help flesh out the most refined exhibition of her unmistakable sound to date, it’s all driven home by the production of Swahili Blonde mastermind/Neurotic Yell CEO Nicole Turley.
AJW maintains her classic vocal chirp of a little Southern girl with a flashlight under the blanket telling ghost stories, but on “You’re The Father of My Songs” we see the stories turn considerably antagonistic. There’s the Dada-dance warning of impending brimstone on the album’s opener “2000Hell” that segues into the Roky Erikson-esque scorn/minimalist Bad Seeds dirge of “Animal Dog” getting your feet wet in murkier waters, before the reggae infused hoedown of “Holster, The Gun It Hangs In There” and psychedelic seasick shanty “Suppose I Did Mean Love.”
Ladled with generous helpings of country/gospel back up vocals, wind-thrown seasoning’s of onomonopias, and sidewinding Beefheartening rhythmic risks, perhaps the gutsiest moment is her delving into the straight pop territory of “Goddamn Muse” which could very well be AJW and crew’s triumphant steeling back of the dreaded omnipresent (but never failing radio hit formula) Am/F/C/G progression, back to the punk roots from which it was spawned? In a perfect world this would be bullet status on Billboard, and it may be good news for all of us that despite all her occasional communing with darker hues, AJW is an unabashed utopian at heart.
released 21 May 2013
All songs written by Amanda Jo Williams
Published by Songs Of Heyday a/c Gingerhominyjack Publishing (BMI)
Amanda Jo Williams - acoustic guitar, vocals
5-Track - bass, lead guitars
Nicole Turley - drums
Lauren "Feather" Fay - percussion
Laena Geronimo - violin, backing vocals
John Frusciante - piano, organ
Brad Caulkins - saxophone
- Trumpet arrangements by...
Nicole Turley & Brad Caulkins
Recorded, mixed, produced, and mastered by Nicole Turley
Cover photograph of Amanda & Mona by Mark Escribano
Back cover photograph by Mackenzie Parker
Album art design by Nicole Turley & Amanda Jo Williams.