wears the trousers magazine

sarah williams white: fool (2009)
August 2, 2009, 11:55 am
Filed under: album, review, video | Tags: , , ,


Sarah Williams White
Fool ••½
The Sarah Tree

According to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, soul music “arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm and blues into a form of funky, secular testifying” – a definition that suggests that no white, British woman singing about love and everyday life can ever match the gutsy, whisky-drenched preaching vocals of the genre’s iconic and predominantly Afro-American figures. With this in mind, Sarah Williams White’s debut album is not especially liberating, and marketing it as ‘alternative soul’ could prove to be her downfall, particularly when comparing the material to more successful attempts made by Dover’s Joss Stone and New York’s Fiona Apple.

Fool does, however, act as a good testament to the theory that any female singer-songwriter performing with a London accent will irrevocably call to mind our generation’s Reebok clad First Lady, Lily Allen. Resorting to a comparison that is quickly becoming age-old is to say the least depressing, but its inadequacy is only equal to the droves of wannabe lower-class singers emerging from the capital.

Whether Lewisham-based Williams White truly belongs in this category is not yet clear, but the presence of a Cockney twang may make some listeners wary. Highlights on Fool come in the form of ‘Voices’, the second track and an obvious single contender, and ‘Don’t Leave Me (While The Sun Is Out)’, which echoes Regina Spektor’s kitsch, sporadic technique with an uncanny likeness and suggests White is more (Kate) Nash than Allen. Elsewhere the strolling ‘Climb Out Yo Head’ has a catchy, upbeat melody that downplays on the otherwise constant up-down tempo.

Finding a weakness in the album is hard, not because it is flawless, but because each track reaches a consistent level. Whether that level is good or bad is a question of preference. To these ears, the whole thing stinks too much of Blue’s collaboration with Stevie Wonder – as though it is striving to be something other than its natural self. As if Williams White’s version of soul lacks exactly that.

Tiffany Daniels
UK release date: 03/06/09; www.myspace.com/sarahwilliamswhite



12 Comments so far
Leave a comment

wow, so only black americian artists can write soul music? or are you saying only black americian artists can write music that has soul? what an uneducated point of view. You say the album is striving to be anything other than itself, yet this album is totally her. The lyrics are totally honest, for example ‘voices’ talks about how she was bullied when she was younger, ‘fool’ speaks about her insecurities as a young woman, shes sharing her deepest darkest moments to the world (fool). She produced this album… yes she produced this album herself, this album couldn’t be more Sarah Williams White if it tried. You clearly haven’t understood this album at all, yeah she comes from London and she sings in a London accent??? Should she have adopted a Yankee twang when she tracked the vocals??? and for you to compare the album to the stevie and blue colab, leaves me worried for your hearing… oh and you should check out an artist called Lewis Taylor, hes a white british soul singer, he also forgot before he started making music that he wasn’t black and he wasn’t americian… what an idiot…

Comment by TRICKard

Madam, i laugh in your general direction.

You lost all credibility when suggesting that SWW’s work brings to mind that of the early Reebok-clad Lily Allen. As LA’s sound was, and is, still refreshing, so is SWW’s. Littering your review with long words lifted from Roget’s does absolutely nothing to validate your judgement that SWW lacks soul. Personally, i cannot put the album down and look forward to further offerings from SWW.

Comment by Howie

Judging by your review history tiffany it seems that no artist compares favourably to Her Royal Highness, Lily Allen, so i think i’m going to take your album with a pinch of salt. Primarily because its wrong.

Great album, can’t get “Fool” out of my head, nor do i want to.

Comment by Fergie

Sarah, If you come across this amusing review, pls don’t let it discourage or dishearten you. Your music is quirky, soulful and from the heart which hmm let me think… could be described as Alternative Soul. One of the best albums this year…

Comment by Jenny

“as though it is striving to be something other than its natural self” Haha…sorry but you do have to laugh at how much you missed the point there!! I mean…seriously…where did you get that from..???….what music do you listen to..?? And also its worrying that you think you can take up this position of reviewer/critic when you are so off the mark!! As Trickard said you CANT put anymore soul into this music, one of SWWs many amazing strengths is her PURE HONESTY, something that most of the music industry lacks, its disappointing as another musician to see a critic with such closed ears and such little imagination…if you dont like it thats completely fair enough but dont act like you have the right to say whether soul is in this music or not….you just make yourself look bad AND unsoulful! Like u have! GREAT ALBUM!
ps. Soul is something you cant describe!

Comment by Paul

What the hell have Blue got to do with anything??? I completely agree with all of the above comments. This review is entirely confused and seems to be more about trying to be smart than actually giving the reader a helpful hint as to what to expect from this album. It is a fresh and intelligent album that sounds to me like it takes influences from all types of soul music and puts it into something new (that is the alternative part). It stands totally as its natural self, which I think is something that music reviewers get put off by as they don’t feel safe hearing it.

Stop trying to be clever and have another listen!

Comment by Tommy

I think some of the above commenters perhaps need to lighten up and start to understand what Soul music actually is. Perhaps they should also reread the review & try to find a criticism that is unfounded.

SWW may be ‘refreshing’ but she’s no more refreshing than the many London singer/songwriting girls that are about. In fact she’s actually less original and inspiring in my opinion. She’s not bad, she’s just not *special*. Is she the only one to write about bullies or insecurity? No.

The amount of bile that commenters are releasing is astounding. Why, if you are so confident in the stunning talent of SWW, do you need to attack a review that merely does not praise her to the high heavens?

Comment by keep the faith

I’ve heard this album plenty of times and I think that it is brilliant. You can stuff Lilly Allen up your fat ass, she’s got nothing to do with SWW and isn’t as good either.
Anyone interested in listening to great, funky, soulful original contemporary music could do a lot worse than checking out ‘Fool’.
I suggest the reviewer should focus less on making inaccurate comparisons with other artists and moron, excuse me, more on learning a little about music in order to be able to review the actual music and not the artist.

Comment by JS

A bad review doesn’t stop this from being a great album….

Comment by Doodle

SWW for president! The album rules – she rules – you know it, we know it. I’m late for this debate but I don’t care. Get the album. Girl’s got soul. Don’t wanna hear no more about it.

Comment by Soph

I love all the different opinions here….It’s fascinating how we all hear music isn’t it…..!? I think so.
I have to say I do find this review a little acerbic though…Or it could be unhoned writing skills, it’s hard to tell. To me, the review seems unbalanced. It seems hell bent on berating WW for choosing the ‘wrong’ category for herself….As a fellow musician I can only say what a corporate drag it is to even have to be bothered to think about where to ‘go’. However, Sarah, I can see your thinking – Funky, Hip-hoppy, ‘I believe you when you singy’, therefore souly etc etc. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I found Sarah WW’s album full of life and creativity. I enjoy her storytelling style. Her use of harmony is interesting and at times suprising and her cheeky melodies I found charming coupled with the heavy grooves. Also, I can’t help but be in awe of the fact it looks like she did it ALL herself! Woweee! You MUST be applauded! Errrrr…..Silly Allen – cockney milker! Dross Stone – affected, repetitive spoiler! Part of the ‘humming on satan’s balls’ wheel…..Errrrrrr!! I’m looking forward to hearing this artist develop and grow and see what she hatches up next! She’s got integrity and ideas. I think she’s very very on it. Big Time.

Comment by Don A Mullet

[…] 14/7] 16 Julie Peel – Near The Sun [Charlotte Richardson Andrews 1/9] 17 Sarah Williams White – Fool [Tiffany Daniels 2/8] 18 VV Brown – Travelling Like The Light [Matt Bregazzi 15/7] 19 Kate Walsh […]

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