(05 October 2001) The latest release from Woodstock, NY-based Bet Williams
is a breezy eleven track collection entitled Rose Tatoo (Epiphany
Records (USA) 0002 2, 2000). The artist's prior recordings include
Elephants and Angels (1990)
here) and Building A Bed (1992)
here). Musical Discoveries' visitors will recall Bet's collaboration on the
Epiphany Project album (review).
After developing a cult following at Penn State University in the late 1980's,
Bet packed up her poetry degree and a handful of songs to take them on the road.
From House of Blues in Los Angeles, to the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville to the
Bottom Line in New York City, Bet has shared the stage with a variety of artists
including Arlo Guthrie, Joan Osborne, Baba Olatunji and John Gorka.
On Rose Tatoo, Bet provides the vocal talent and acoustic guitar.
She is joined by Phil Parlaipano (electric guitar, organ, mellotron), Mark
Harris (bass), Steve Theards (drums, loop), Scott Babcock (percussion), Bruce
Watson (electric guitar) and Robin Moxey (electric guitar) amongst others.
Coco Beaujolais provides backing vocals on some of the tracks.
Bet is known to be a passionate and dynamic performer with powerful voice
can be earthy one moment and angelic the next. Songs like the bluesy "Killed
My Man" and "Blow A Little Smoke" show Bet's humor and strong, soulful style
while the highly infectious "OOh La La" and "Welcome To My World" demonstrate
her ability to craft powerful rock and roll hooks.
Lightly arranged acoustic ballads like "Rose Tattoo," "California"
and "Thunder and Stone" reveal a more sensitive side. The contrasts
within "Just Like You" between ballad and gentle rocker certainly make
it one of the album's standout tracks. We especially enjoyed the Americana
style of "Walk Down The Road" and bluesy "Killed My Man" and "Water
Under The Bridge" not only in contrast to the other tracks on the album but
for the stunning vocal work within them. "Mary," a song about a woman
panhandling, show Bet's compassion and gift for storytelling.
Musical Discoveries' readers will appreciate the tremendous production quality
of the album and the fact that vocals are mixed way up, well over the instrumentals.
However the instrumental arrangements are an equally strong element of the album,
sometimes overlooked in a female vocalist's work. This is an album to be savored
and played over and over. As Guitar One magazine put it "She's blessed
with all the right stuff; a fantastic voice, a talent for songwriting, good
musicianship and a charasmatic stage presence."
Rose Tatoo is certainly an album to delight female vocal enthusiasts,
especially those that track Tori Amos and Sheryl Crow to whom Bet has been
favourably compared. Find out more about the artist at her
website and read further reviews,
listen to soundbites and order the album from amazon.com
here. Certainly worth a cross-country journey, Rose Tatoo is a