Tamara Williamson All Those Racing Horses

British native Tamara Williamson moved to Canada over a decade ago and after working her way through numerous Toronto acts, branched off into a solo career in 1997 with Nightmare on Queen Street, a lo-fi gem that secured her a prominent role in the Toronto scene, followed by key collaborations with King Cobb Steelie and Do Make Say Think. All Those Racing Horses finds Williamson surpassing the enormous promise of Queen Street and her two subsequent releases, Unconscious Pilot and In the Arms of Ed, her songwriting finally able to catch up and perfectly showcase her tremendous voice. The superficial points of comparison remain easily identifiable as her vocal mannerisms are reminiscent of Beth Orton, though also at times sound eerily similar to Chan Marshall, like on the mesmeric "August,” Lisa Germano on "Houses,” Kristin Hersh on "The News” and even Björk in her haunting background work on "The King.” Lyrically, it follows far more in the vein of Hersh’s literary savvy storytelling than Orton’s poetic muses. The intimate production, also taken on admirably by Tamara, sets the 13 songs in a uniformly stark and mellow cast, really only picking up tempo for her incredible cover of Karl Wallinger’s "Love Street.” Racing Horses is a captivating listen from front to back without any significant nadirs, a lovely winter album from a gifted songwriter clearly able to embrace the season’s introspective and secluding beauty. (Aporia)