Meg Williams shows her Muscle Shoals

on her new album – Take Me As I Am

New York-born, Nashville resident Meg Williams has released a follow up to the very promising EP, Maybe Someday, which we reviewed here on Bluesdoodles last year. My introduction to that review remains apposite and so…”She is, on the evidence of her website, a vivacious and amazingly happy individual; there isn’t a single photograph where she isn’t smiling or laughing, and this inevitably carries over to her music and her band. A regular on the live circuit in the US, her music is a mix of blues, rock and soul, with a dash of funk thrown in, despite the Nashville link: although there is no longer the Nashville equals country exclusivity there used to be; many fine blues and rock albums are being written and recorded there. The White Stripes, Bon Jovi and Deep Purple are a few examples of the now diverse range of music that comes from ‘Music City’”. I also said I was looking forward to her next full-length release and with Take Me As I Am: The Muscle Shoal Sessions she has moved to the phenomena that is Nola Blue and no, she does not disappoint. The twelve tracks on offer again run the gamut of rock, blues, country and soul with two tracks (I Feel A Heartache Coming and Little Bit Of The Devil) being reworks of tracks from her EP.

Opener, Come Over To Me, is a laid back country blues that showcases the band with slide, B3, drums and bass giving it a great sounding start. A slightly breathy vocal fits nicely even though the melody is one of those ‘sort of sounds like’ patterns that means you get into it even quicker. The slide solo is too short but adds a depth to back the vocal passion. Tell Everybody starts with a simple rock riff that is given weight by the B3 and, again, that wonderful slide. It lightens up a lot for the chorus and could be classed as (almost) a pop song…a pop song in a Bonnie Raitt style with a picked and then slide solo to make it all really rather enjoyable. Shame moves into a funk-rock style with soul overtones. The guitar solos are exceptional in range and tone and makes the song a lot better than it could have been. Little Bit Of The Devil is a little faster and heavier than the version on the EP and is the first true blues-rock and by the time the riff and slide intro are complete, this is already a regular listen and it gets better; especially the slide guitar throughout. Played By The Blues is a glorious celebration of the electric blues idiom. Bolan style guitar riffs back Meg’s vocals beautifully and lead to a picked solo that is paced just right and has sufficient gaps between the notes to make it even more meaningful. Sometimes I Need You Too slows us down as it enters a slide and B3 driven blues song of quality: it even has a hint of the Allmans that helps warm the song despite the conflicted lyrics. Take Me As I Am has a fascinating lyrical take on the caprices of the music business…in the end, however, we are left in no doubt that Meg will win in life, love and the ruthless business she is in. The backing to this story is a country blues that, courtesy of that wonderful slide, maintains the interest and lifts it above similar styled songs. What About Me? is light rock that the strummed guitar and B3 make into a melange of blues, soul and rock that works nicely. Can’t Keep Waiting On You ups the rock content as it builds from a simple start into the chorus led kind of song that has a pop structure but the riff and B3 keep it firmly in rock territory. Another reworked song from her EP is next; I Feel A Heartache coming is amped up a bit and is essentially a soul infused rock song that Meg and the band let rip in such an entertaining way that it is an improvement on the original and is, at the moment at least, is my favourite mainly because of the way the melodies move effortlessly between rock, blues and country and sometimes all three at the same time. The outro solo, should you be in doubt, shows how adept Meg is on the guitar as well as the vocals. Make a Move is a step into slinky and sultry soulful blues with a fitting solo. Listening to the lyrics just makes me want to offer to assist! Take A Chance On My Love wraps it all up with a blues based ballad and hint of gospel provided by the harmonies. Ultimately it is a nice enough song saved by one of Meg’s trademark deft solos, but it feels to me a little like decaf…shows potential but lacks something and, in this case, a weightier, rockier slice of blues would have been a better conclusion to a damn good album.

This is a lovely album that doesn’t quite live up to my, perhaps unfair and high expectations from the EP, but will nevertheless remain a regular part of my listening pleasures. There is much to be enjoyed, vocally and instrumentally and it is worth repeated listens to ensure you enjoy all of the nuances that Meg feeds into the guitar parts and the excellent backing band’s contributions.

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Tracklisting:

  1. Come On Over To Me
  2. Tell Everybody
  3. Shame
  4. Little Bit Of The Devil
  5. Played By The Blues
  6. Sometimes I Need You Too
  7. Take Me As I Am
  8. What About Me
  9. Can’t Keep Waiting On You
  10. I Feel A Heartache Coming
  11. Make A Move
  12. Take A Chance On My Love
  13. Musicians:

    Meg Williams-Vocals, guitar

    Will McFarlane-Guitar

    Bob Wray-Bass

    Clayton Ivey-Keys

    Justin Holder-Drums

    Dan Wecht-Guitar

    Sara Rogers-Backing vocals

    Meg Williams shows her Muscle Shoals

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