Tamara Williamson at the Rivoli (332 Queen West), Saturday (July 7). $8. 416-596-1908. Rating: NNNNN
Tamara Williamson at the Rivoli (332 Queen West), Saturday (July 7). $8. 416-596-1908.
tamara williamson sings bal-lads with the intensity of a Gen-X Piaf. Her songs, swelling with lyrics of loss and framed by chilly string arrangements, evoke English pastures and inexorable loneliness. It's blistering folk with just a suggestion of London panache, perfectly simple and real.Although she was born and raised in London, England, Williamson likes to distance herself from the all-encompassing "Brit" label. She prefers to create songs that transcend categories and borders.
Her latest album, The Arms Of Ed, delicately weaves ambient sounds into pop ballads that are wistful and brimming with imagery. It's music that is difficult to classify.
"I don't go for any trend or follow anything that's going on," she says on the phone from her home in rural southern Ontario.
One thing you can say about the singer-songwriter is that she's not exactly business-savvy. The new album is exclusively available on her Web site (www.tamarawilliamson.com). For free. At a time when bands are going to court to protect their financial interests against Napster or anyone else who's doling out music gratis, Williamson is going in another direction.
"I wanted to make it free. The saddest thing in the world is to make a record you really like and then have it sell 300 copes. I would love to make money making music, but right now I just want people to hear the album."
Doubtless, her low financial expectations come from watching alternative music gain and then lose its influence. The soft-spoken singer has wafted around the local music scene for 10 years, and she saw the bubble of early-90s idealism burst by the lack of label interest that followed. These days, Williamson concentrates only on her craft.
"People back in the 90s felt like they could succeed," she says. "But record companies don't have faith any more. It's a lot harder. Everyone was dreaming of a record deal when I got here.
"Now I see that I'm not a businesswoman, I'm a musician. I can't be bothered any more hunting for a music deal. I put everything into my songs, and after that I can't be out looking for something else."
Williamson plays the Rivoli Saturday (July 7) and will be backed by her new, all-female crew.
"We may become a band. We're writing some strange new songs, a lot of instrumental things.
"Bands are better. They're more fun to watch." @@@@@