Published May 17, 2012Things weren't going well for Andre Williams back in 2008. After decades mired in substance abuse and repeated incarceration, the then-70-year-old R&B legend was close to rock bottom. None were feeling his pain more than the Sadies, who had helped bring Williams back into the public eye via their 1999 collaboration, Red Dirt. In the four years since Night and Day was recorded, Williams has, to a large extent, straightened himself out enough to enjoy his golden years. Night and Day is therefore a compelling snapshot of a man — fresh out of jail, no less — pulling no punches in relating the circumstances in which he found himself. The picture that Williams paints on tracks like "America," "Bored" and "Joliet" is pretty bleak: rampant racism, drugs and guns, all blazing a trail that inevitably ends at the penitentiary. Williams has been offering the wisdom of his experiences on his last couple of albums, but that voice was established during these sessions when making music was most likely his last hope. The Sadies have always brought out Williams's best, and here again they perform sympathetically under the direction of Heavy Trash's Jon Spencer and Matt Verta-Ray, injecting garage rock venom or coaxing out Williams's inner country crooner whenever necessary. It adds up to Night and Day being another true testament by one of America's last genuine musical anti-heroes.
Read an interview with the Sadies here. (Outside)