Dennis Paul Williams has always had a unique voice as a zydeco guitarist, practically playing the role of jazz shaman in his brother Nathan’s Zydeco Cha Chas and nephew Lil’ Nathan and the Zydeco Big Timers. To say that his own solo recording is long overdue is like saying Mardi Gras is as a good place as any to get your drink on. Still, Williams’ debut solo offering comes as a surprise. Instead of being electric like he’s heard in his two family bands, it’s an allacoustic, original affair with minimal overdubbing. Each composition was inspired by an artistic creation of the same name—Williams’ day job is as a mixed-media visual artist—so the end result is a sonic, impressionistic interpretation of a visual expression.
Like the artwork, every song is deeply rooted in symbolism and highly spiritual in nature. Williams’ nimble fretwork is like finger gymnastics—beautiful melodic passages played in the upper registers, only to be answered by bass notes in the lower wards that serve as a bassline. Some songs are nurturing (“Mother Song”); others offer reassurance (“Morning Light”); a few feel breezy and Brazilian (“Middle Balance”). Unlike many acoustic guitar albums, there are virtually no sounds of fingers sliding across the frets before plucking the next note. What’s even more amazing is how each tune leads to meditation and reflection without any obvious nudging.