April 25th, 2011 | Album reviews

Igor Jackson

(from Mary’s Big Feet EP out now on NocturnalSol)

Migrating from the populated and frenetic, sweaty plains of her recent live performances, Ms. Jo Williams has descended into dank, wooded forests; the sun is fading. Here, there’s a walloping loneliness in her voice, as if there may not be anyone out there anymore, and even the crickets have gone quiet. This is rough; like haunted field recordings from a quiet apocalypse, her tiny guitar and warbling singing often the only instruments, save for reverb-soaked, ambient sounds. Despite the howls in the distance, she remains a mystic, skirting some line between aged contemplation and the weird, awesome rambling of young children when left to their own devices. And from that mixture comes something difficult and joyful. There is an expansive, a hopefulness, that constantly overwhelms whatever encroaching darkness is suggested. Near the end of ‘Homeheart,’ her nonsense chorus is suddenly visited by a quick shock of percussion. On “Blue Toy Airplane,” she’s joined by her young son who duets on lyrics about Trader Joe’s balloons, and it’s just too fucking cute, really. In other contexts, it could seem like a throwaway song, but coming late in the album as it does, it repurposes everything as a type of ghost-filled lullaby. If the woods go quiet, fill them with noise.

Gerard Olson