Picks and Pans Review: End of the Summer

updated 08/25/1997 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/25/1997 01:00AM

Dar Williams

On her third album, Massachusetts folk singer Dar Williams challenges herself with a strong backup band and more complex arrangements, adding a pop-rock feel to many of the tracks. The approach works well on tunes like the driving, hypnotic opener, "Are You Out There." More than the settings, though, it is Williams's keen eye for detail and her superb storytelling ability that make this disc so good. From her touching portraits on "My Friends" to the witty "Road Buddy"—about a cross-country trip gone sour—she proves herself a powerful wordsmith. Her impressive, three-octave range is also employed to good advantage on "If I Wrote You," a delicate ballad, and "Bought and Sold," a tune whose pedal-steel and dobro riffs evoke the feeling of a dusty ghost town. With a little luck, this engaging album may propel Williams to the same heights recently enjoyed by her fellow folkie Shawn Colvin. (Razor & Tie)

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