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Dar Williams

posted Jan 9, 2009, 6:51 AM by Vu Nguyen
 01/09/2009 08:08:38  written by vu ()
Dar Williams-It's Alright
Tour Dates
01/21/09 Water Street Music Rochester,NY*
01/22/09 Paradise Rock Club Boston, MA*
01/23/09 Webster Hall New York*
01/24/09 Keswick Theatre Philidelphia, PA*
01/25/09 Ringwood Library Ringwood, NJ
01/26/09 The National Richmond, VA*
01/28/09 Cat’s Cradle Cabarro, NC*
01/29/09 WorkPlay Theatre Birmingham, AL*
01/30/09 Georgia Theatre Athens, GA*
01/31/09 The Handlebar Greenville, SC*
02/03/09 Culture Room Ft. Lauderdale, FL*
02/04/09 The PalladiumSt. Petersburg, FL*
02/05/09 Common Grounds Gainesville, FL*
02/06/09 Freebird Jacksonville, FL*
02/07/09 House of Blues New Orleans, LA*
03/05/09 Higher Ground S Burlington, VT
03/06/09 Historic Strand Theatre Rockland, ME
03/07/09 Stone Mountain Arts Brownfield, ME
03/12/09 Whitaker Center  Harrisburg, PA**
03/14/09 Boulton Center for Arts Bayshore, NY
03/15/09 Ridgefield Playhouse Ridgefield, CT

* with Joshua Radin & Jesse Harris
** with Jeffrey Gaines

[1993] The Honesty Room

[1996] Mortal City

[1997] End of The Summer

[1998] Cry Cry Cry

[2000] The Green World

[2001] Out There Live

[2003] The Beauty of the Rain

[2005] My Better Self

[2008] Promised Land
I had wanted to mention Dar Williams in early December, because of her winter tour dates (plus, on her latest album, Promised Land, she has a Christmas-type song called "Holly Tree") - but you know how it is with the busy holidays and unexpected laziness. The good thing about active musicians is that they are always on tour, so I am happy to see that she'll be doing some East/South dates, mostly with Joshua Radin & Jesse Harris. Please see side panel for more details.

So, a little detail about how I first came upon Dar Williams. Back in the late 90s, I had an internet friend called Darylynn and through various IM sessions, I got tired of typing her full name and just started typing simply "Dar". She, in turn, started calling me simply as "V".

Well, as it turns out, as she tells me that there was this singer/songwriter going around calling herself "Dar" as well. That was Dar Williams. I would later find out that Dar Williams' real name is actually Dorothy, but the truth behind her nickname of 'Dar' was that her parents wanted to name her Darcy.

When not doing the music-thing, Dar Williams is an active supporter of various causes, such as prisoner-rights, women rights, and environmental concerns, and it shows up in various themes in her songs.

On Promised Land, with the album artwork and some songs seems to address nature. "Go to the Woods" seems to be about our fear of nature, what are we afraid of? An "angry-ass woman" or crazy lumberjack living in the dark woods? Is that why we're destroying the trees? The punchline at the end of the song has a slight sadness to it: "the woods are disappearing, so when I go back, when I finally do/You know the woods will be gone, it just won't be there.".

She sums up her view on the environment and Promised Land:

I'm as green as you get for what I do for a living, which require, you know, things like flying. I think about the environment all the time. The biggest deal to me right now is trying to get my town’s elementary and middle schools to look at geothermal as an option... In my mind, this country is like a patchwork of towns filled with people hanging out, growing gardens, listening to music, and talking about important stuff. In a way, that’s what the album title is about. I found myself making a distinction between the Promised Land we claim and the actual promise of the land that we try to live up to.

- Dar Williams, from

Note on "Go to the Woods" is that it features one of my favorite folk singer, Suzanne Vega, on backing vocals. I totally thought of Vega, but wasn't sure until I checked the liner notes. I think one of the awful thing about digital-only albums is that people really forget all the cool things you can find in physical albums. I know that's not very green of me to say, but I really enjoy looking and reading booklets. On Promised Land, Williams gives us all her lyrics, plus each lyric is accompanied with different artworks (compiled by Simon and Marnie Draper).

The most interesting song on the album is a Fountains of Wayne cover song. You may have heard of Fountains through their popular and catchy (yet annoying after hearing it x-times), "Stacy's Mom". Fortunately, Dar chose to go with another song called "Troubled Times" off of their 1999 album, Utopia Parkway. Her version is decidedly pretty faithful to the song, but only sweeter-sounding. You can hear the original Fountains of Waynes version on

Other stand-out songs on the album is the toe-tapping "Buzzer", which seems to be about being prodded and experimented on in a laboratory. The person in the song just gave up and treated it as some sort of game show - hit the buzzer. In some ways, I think about the idea of torture and, given a certain point, that the person will sign/do whatever you want just to get end the torture.

The lead/main song song for the album is "It's Alright". It's very, very, radio-friendly. Her lyrics and vocals are at their best here, complete with clapping background with guitars by Marshall Crenshaw.

Promised Land is out now on Razor and Tie Records. You can find Dar Williams' albums at your local record store, or if you don't live near one, there's always amazon and itunes.