Published Jan 01, 2006Victoria Williams is hot. With a desert home in Joshua Tree, California, it's no surprise that the arid heat would get to her, a sharp contrast to the lush green of her childhood in Louisiana. In the two years since her last album, Musings of a Creek Dipper, the self-described pioneer woman has been making the most of her adopted home, drilling wells, planting fruit trees and building a studio, where she recorded her stunning new album Water To Drink.
When Williams was told of her reduced recording budget, she forged ahead and make a live-off-the-floor album of jazz standards, before discovering that the quoted amount was for a producer, not the whole shebang; besides, having signed a lauded songwriter, her label wanted some originals. Water To Drink reflects the loose feel - and features three of the jazz tracks with strings from Beach Boys arranger Van Dyke Parks to help them fit in with the lusher originals - that Williams feels comfortable with, whether writing or recording. "Little Bird' is about a bluebird that I've known - the same one or its family - for ten years, and this song just fell out. When we cut it, we only played it together once. I like to catch the first time."
Also caught on tape was a little more "environment" than she was anticipating, in the form of a chirping cricket who found its way onto "Until the Real Thing Comes Along." It provides a natural link to one of Williams' heroes, Joni Mitchell - another folkie with a jazz bent, who had the same thing happen on her 1991 album Night Ride Home.
It's all part and parcel with a laid-back approach, since stress only contributes to Williams' ongoing battle with MS. "I'm much less of a perfectionist than I used to be. It's just another stress that I can really see putting me under, so I really try to let it go. Let go and let God,' as the old bumper sticker says."