"This record is all about how time matters. It's the most precious thing we have." Kathryn Williams
Keen Elvis aficionados may spot Crown Electric as the name of the power company that employed the young Presley as a delivery truck driver before he got the call to record his first session at Sun Studios. Sixty years on, it's also the title of the tenth album from Liverpool-born, Newcastle-based singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams - and her first solo record in almost four years.
It's a suitably emphatic title for Williams' most potent album yet, confirmation and summation of the songwriting skills she's been honing since 1999's Dog Leap Stairs. "As soon as I said it, the words in my mouth felt lovely," says Kathryn. "It felt exciting and fresh but it also had the sound of a classic album. It has strength to it. It's steadfast." From the first song to the last, her lyrics have never been more astute, her melodies more memorable nor her arrangements more beautiful.
Crown Electric is released by One Little Indian on 30th September, previewed by lead single Heart Shaped Stone released 5th August, listen here.
Kathryn plays an intimate show at St. Pancras Old Church on Thursday 1st August before embarking on her biggest UK tour to date during September & October (see below).
"I feel strangely giddy about this record," she says. "I feel like I've hit a point in my writing where I don't feel apologetic." She mentions the opening line from Tequila: "Be brave enough to be yourself." That's what I'm trying to do with this record," she says. "To feel all the doubts and do it anyway. It's about coming to terms with where you are and what matters and being happy with your lot."
One of Britain's finest songwriters, Kathryn's music has always challenged the distinctions between folk and pop. Currently enjoying the most prolific phase of her career, Crown Electric's songs were narrowed down from a pool of 60 with the help of producer and long-time musical foil, Neill MacColl (who also worked with Kathryn on Two (2008) and 2010's The Quickening). Crown Electric also boasts some stunning collaborations with Ed Harcourt (Darkness Light, Morning Twilight, Sequins) and James Yorkston (Arwen). What unites these songs is confidence, precision, grace and an eye for the small details that illuminate large ideas. "It's about having a complex idea and then working out how to explain that simply," she says.
Crown Electric was recorded live in three days at Bryn Derwen Studios in Snowdonia with Neill MacColl as guitarist, bandleader and producer, Lamb's Jon Thorne on double bass and Cinematic Orchestra's Luke Flowers on drums. It was mixed by David Wrench with sumptuous strings added later at Ray Davies legendary Konk Studios in North London, arranged and recorded by cellist Ben Trigg (Dexys, UNKLE, Arctic Monkeys).
In support of Crown Electric Kathryn will embark on her biggest UK tour for many years during September and October, as below.
Saturday 5th October Kendal Brewery Arts Centre
Tuesday 8th October Aberdeen The Lemontree
Wednesday 9th October Kinross Green Hotel
Thursday 10th October Glasgow Oran Mor
Friday 11th October Edinburgh The Caves
Wednesday 16th October Sheffield Greystones
Friday 18th October Saltburn Saltburn Old School
Sunday 20th October Stockton The Waiting Room
Tuesday 22nd October Chester Telford's Warehouse
Thursday 24th October Selby Selby Arts Centre
Sunday 10th November Hebden Bridge Trades Folk Weekend
Beginning with the self release of debut Dog Leaps Stairs, recorded for £80 in 1999, Kathryn's career has now spanned 14 years. In that time she has been Mercury nominated and and collaborated with numerous respected musicians including John Martyn, Tom McRae, Chris Difford, Teddy Thompson, Robyn Hitchcock, Badmarsh and Shri, Thea Gilmore and Sandie Shaw.