Hannah Williams and the Tastemakers - A Hill of Feathers

Hannah Williams and the Tastemakers
Hannah Williams and the Tastemakers A Hill of Feathers.jpg
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It's becoming redundant to talk or write about singers and bands from the United Kingdom that specialize in making classic soul and R&B music. There may be theories that explain why so many artists from UK and Europe have come to embrace classic soul and excel in making quality music in that genre. I'm not even going to venture an explanation because if I've learned one thing from this year's political season, it's that sociology and social commentary are best left to the sociologists. I know that there are commercial reasons why groups such as Hannah Williams and the Tastemakers continue making retro-soul records like their debut project A Hill of Feathers. There is a vibrant and growing market for original new material that has the sound and production techniques from 1960s Memphis.

It's becoming redundant to talk or write about singers and bands from the United Kingdom that specialize in making classic soul and R&B music. There may be theories that explain why so many artists from UK and Europe have come to embrace classic soul and excel in making quality music in that genre. I'm not even going to venture an explanation because if I've learned one thing from this year's political season, it's that sociology and social commentary are best left to the sociologists. I know that there are commercial reasons why groups such as Hannah Williams and the Tastemakers continue making retro-soul records like their debut project A Hill of Feathers. There is a vibrant and growing market for original new material that has the sound and production techniques from 1960s Memphis.

It's easy to see why music fans who like high quality soul and R&B music would find themselves attracted to a group like Hannah Williams & the Tastemakers. For one thing, the band features a core of talent musicians who make music the old way - meeting in a studio and playing behind Hannah Williams' vocals. And what about those vocals: Some people will detect in Williams assertive and throaty vocals some Janis Joplin. Williams certainly has the range, as well as the mastery of the blues and more than a hint of rock. Finally, there are the compositions themselves. Williams would probably sound good singing names out of the telephone directory. However, A Hill of Feathers gives her a lot more to work with.

Williams hits all of the familiar relationship themes on A Hill of Feathers. She becomes the frustrated, had-it-up-to-here homemaker who's done being taken for granted on "Kitchen Strut." Williams brings a balance of sass and humor to tune about a woman who is sick and tired of moving from the kitchen to the bedroom. "Six whole years I been stuck here/Doing all this for free/maybe I should bill you/My bags are packed waiting on the door honey/You best not stop me or I'm gonna kill you."

Williams proves she can do fire lust as well as she can do domestic angst on the brassy and steamy "Do Whatever Makes You Feel Hot." The man may take her for granted, but in this case she's willing to overlook his shortcomings when the two move to the bedroom. And this is a straight up bedroom anthem. However, in true classic soul style, Williams' lyrics eschew explicitness for sensual metaphor. "When I'm with you baby/Sometimes I feel like I'm going crazy/I find myself with no shoes on/Moving my hips like I heard a funky James Brown song.”

And believe me, one listen to those funky horns, that driving bass line and those guitar licks and I bet the Godfather would approve of this message.

Notable tracks: Work it Out, Tell Me Something (Liberties), Washed Up

Vocals: 3.5
Lyrics: 3.5
Instrumentation: 4.0
Production: 4.0
SoulTracks' call: Highly Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 

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