"The Statesboro-born country blues singer, songwriter and guitarist Brooks Williams now has this 28th album to his name in a career spanning a similar time scale, an immense achievement by one of the hardest working troubadours in the business. Based in Cambridgeshire, UK, Brooks has never been in greater demand on both sides of the pond as his prodigious talent is increasingly recognised across the blues, folk and Americana spectrum. Whether headlining festivals or playing small gigs in rural venues, Brooks feels at home and delivers high quality performances in his inimitable easy going style.
Lucky Star, on Red Guitar Blue Music was recorded in three days and epitomises the vibe and excitement of the old Sun records. As Williams explains, “no isolation booths, no overdubs, no headphones, just musicians playing songs together in a way that used to be pretty common but isn’t anymore.” The jaunty opener, “Bright Side Of The Blues”, is a reminder that blues can be happy and optimistic, a celebration of overcoming difficult situations. The funky, jazz-infused “Always The Same” showcases the technical skills of drummer Stu Brown, bassist Kevin McGuire and pianist Phil Richardson.
Next up is a superb version of New Orleans’ R&B singer Christopher Kenner’s hit record, “Something You Got.” Williams’ compositions, “Mama’s Song” and “Gambling Man,” are works of pure genius in terms of lyrics, arrangements and acoustic finger picking guitar technique, enhanced by Scottish folk legend Rab Noakes’ background vocals. Creamer and Turner’s “After You’ve Gone” is a throwback to the early 20th century, replicating the sound and authenticity of the original popular song.
“Here Comes The Blues” and “No Easy Way Back” prove that Brooks can write contemporary blues songs which will also stand the test of time and leave an important legacy for future generations. A gospel track recorded by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, “Rock Me,” written by Rev Thomas Dorsey, further intensifies the variety of material on this album. “Jump That Train” is a welcome addition to the repertoire of memorable train songs in blues history thanks to brilliant slide guitar and driving vocals from Williams.
The mood changes with “Whatever It Takes,” a beautiful, tear-jerking ballad dripping with emotion. Walter Hyatt’s upbeat “Going To New Orleans” would have made a fitting finale but is upstaged by two bonus tracks of Williams with Hans Theesink who toured together recently. The combination of resonator guitar and mandolin on “Rock Me,” plus the scintillating acoustic guitar and vocal duet on “Gambling Man,” shows that the chemistry between the two iconic blues men is something special.
It might have been a lucky star which brought Brooks Williams to UK shores, but it is pure talent, hard work and relentless touring which has brought him to the pinnacle of his career.
- Dave Scott, Blues Bytes
"Georgia-born and UK-based troubadour Brooks has had a prolific spell of late and his new album is the latest to spring up from a particularly purple patch of quality albums. Recorded more or less live at Glasgow's Kyoti Studio with each player in very close physical proximity to the other, there is a delightfully boxy and intimate feel to proceedings and a small combo of bass and drums back the main man's fine resonator playing with deceptive ease. Employing much-loved Fife singer/songwriter Rab Noakes on harmonies is a stroke of genius and adds an extra dimension to Williams' breezily sung lines - delivered as if he has a permanent smile on his face - and songs like the opener "Bright Side Of The Blues" and a cover of Walter Hyatt's "Going To New Orleans" are a joy to be behold.
Whilst his default setting is cheerful and upbeat, it would be wrong to suggest that Williams shies away from the moodier aspect of the blues and the slow-burning "Here Comes The Blues" and the brutally honest "No Easy Way Back" showcase a no-nonsense side to his work alongside the more carefree fare found on the remainder of the album. Elsewhere, the supremely memorable "Gambling Man" - sounding for all the world like it could have been co-written with his namesake Hank - and a great version of Thomas Dorsey's gospel number "Rock Me" with a cameo from Paul Jones on harmonica add further quality to an already top class release whilst alternate versions of both tracks are offered up as a bonus with the help of recent tour mate Hans Theessink. "
- Lins Honeyman, Cross Rhythms