One Man Service Station

Christopher Williams


Big Red Van Music
P. O. Box 45873
Seattle WA 98145

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Moshe Benarroch

Most of the songs in this album sound like an MTV unplugged version of more rocking versions of the same song. You almost expect to hear these songs in an electric setting, but there are no electric instruments on this disc.

It is a most energetic album with powerful guitar chords, a strong voice imposing itself over them, very professionally done. Where Williams is original is in his lyrics. They may be the opposite of what they teach in workshops but they work: many of this songs start with a philosophical view, and just when you think they will end that way, he tells a story of someone or about himself that turns the whole song in a new direction. It is your turn to figure out the relation between the two. The songs are written as paragraphs of prose, giving the feeling that someone is talking to a friend and explaining something important. These Days, the first song on the album, begins with: "Without confusion clarity brings nothing, without questioning answers won't bring truth. Without death life to its fullest will be lost like the innocence of youth." Then in the middle of the song he turns to his lover: "Step inside my heart, but walk gently...." All this intimate, almost personal thinking, is sung in a rocking manner. This contradiction is probably what makes the CD so special.

The songs are basically played by four musicians: Williams on guitars, David Raven on drums, Spencer Capier on violin and mandolin, and David Miner on bass. Miner, who also gave one of the best productions of the nineties in Chase the Buffalo by Pierce Pettis, also produced this cd.

In a way Williams reminds me more of early Pettis than his rather quiet Chase the Buffalo. Pettis also had a rocker soul inside of him fighting with a folkie. He went for the folkie in his last albums. I think that in this world full of categorization Williams will have also to decide where to go, unless he becomes as widely known as Neil Young. Young, and also many of Young's pupils like Son volt, Wilco, Counting Crows, The Jayhawks and specially, Jackopierce, come to mind when listening to One Man Service Station.

Maybe I'm getting too old for rock 'n' roll- although I found this album very interesting the two songs I loved the most are the two quietest songs in the album: Hope for Morning and Only One Love.

This is a CD that will appeal to people who like the "No Depression" acts more than to folkies.

Song list:

  • These Days
  • Better Things
  • Wippel's Last Customer
  • Ending Before Beginning
  • This Song
  • Fly for Freedom
  • White Line
  • Only One Love
  • Southbound Sunrise (instrumental)
  • Superman

Edited by Kerry Dexter

Copyright 1997, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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