On his first new album in eight years, Country Music Hall of Famer Don Williams doesn’t seem particularly concerned with conforming to any sort of new trends that have emerged in the genre. There’s only one person he’s answering to – and that’s himself. And So It Goes, Don’s new record due in stores June 19, is a 10-song set that finds the Texas native sounding as strong as ever and fully at ease with himself and where he’s at in life as a man and an artist.
With an easygoing nature that’s earned Don the nickname “The Gentle Giant” of country music, And So It Goes capitalizes on his exquisite laid-back delivery that turns lyrics into stories. “What If It Worked Like That” plays out like a hummable narrative offering a wise look at life’s simple pleasures between amusing lines like, Take our time without being late / Drink a few beers just to get in shape / Yeah, wouldn’t that be something? On “Infinity,” which features harmony vocals from Chris Stapleton and ponders the great unknown, Don gets a bit existential singing, They say time goes on and on / even after we’re all gone, while comparing the enormity of the universe to the love he has for his wife. A natural storyteller, Don works songs and melodies into thoughtful and compelling pieces, even if the lyrical content itself doesn’t feature a traditional storyline.
Along with Chris Stapleton, Alison Krauss, Keith Urban and Vince Gill also guest on the project. Alison shines on the classic country “I Just Come Here for the Music,” offering soft vocals and beautiful, lonely fiddle. Possibly the album’s best song, tender acoustic guitars and electric piano support the chemistry of Don and Alison as they play the parts of a delicate barroom encounter between two broken hearts.
Keith and Vince both guest on “Imagine That” and “She’s With Me,” the former being a downtrodden ‘miss her badly’ where the two sing harmony vocals over a rhythm section similar to Don’s classic “Tulsa Time.” On the ballad “She’s With Me,” Vince adds a melodic and patient guitar solo while Keith supports with guitar. This song features one of the album’s most expressive and vulnerable lines, when Don sings, There’s nothing like security / This is the safest place I can be / with her holding my heart in her hands, with a loving inflection.
Don wields the power to expertly set up the listener by revealing small lyrical details at a time. On “First Fool In Line,” a downtempo piece with sad Spanish-influenced guitar, he sings, Funny thing about a memory when it comes to love / It forgets about the bad times and remembers what it wants, before adding candidly, So if ever you are looking for a heart that’s love is blind / I’ll be the first fool in line.
There’s a maturity on And So It Goes that is evident throughout; a wise look at life from someone who’s experienced it. On “Heart of Hearts,” Don sings, Just listen to your life, it’s talkin’ to you, through the chorus with an ease and knowing that resonates. With an optimistic tone and a comfortable, laid back approach, And So It Goes delivers an honest look at what truly matters to Don at this point in his life and career.
Key tracks – “I Just Come Here for the Music,” “Infinity,” “Imagine That,” “First Fool In Line”