Album Review: Don Williams — And So It Goes

Juli Thanki | June 19th, 2012

donwilliamsandsoitgoesListen to the radio for any length of time and you’d think country fans are all in a state of extended adolescence, what with middle-aged men celebrating keg party plasticware and lyrics like “Girl, you make my speakers go boom boom” serving as deep expressions of love. Thankfully, we’ve still got Don Williams, who’s got gray in his hair and a few lines around his eyes—just like the folks he sings about.

Co-produced with his longtime partner Garth Fundis (Keith Whitley, Trisha Yearwood), And So It Goes, Williams’ first album of new music in eight years, is a collection of music that wraps around the listener like a favorite leather jacket. The songs – all ballads and mellow, midtempo numbers – are firmly in Williams’ comfort zone. Most of the songs on the album sound as if they could have been recorded at nearly any point during Williams’ career; and a couple of them, like the gorgeous “First Fool in Line” or the slow-grooving album opener “Better Than Today,” might even have been hits had they been released three decades ago.

Of the ten tracks on And So It Goes, Williams co-wrote two, including the title track, a clear-eyed look back at a relationship that’s fizzled out: “And so it goes/While we were busy with the details of our lives/Every day thinking time was on our side/I turned around and you were gone/And I’m left here with the words I never got around to saying/I don’t know why/I guess I never thought our time could pass us by.” There isn’t a bum track on the record; they’re all as sure and steady as Williams’ baritone, which hasn’t aged a bit since its days atop the Billboard charts. And when he’s joined by some of Nashville’s best vocalists – including Vince Gill, who sings harmony on “Heart of Hearts” and Alison Krauss on the tender dancehall duet “I Just Come Here for the Music” – the results are sublime.

At only 35 minutes long, And So It Goes ends far too soon. However, it stands up to repeated, borderline obsessive listening. Like Williams, it’ll only get better with age.

4 Stars

Preview or purchase And So It Goes

  1. Sam.
    June 19, 2012 at 9:24 am

    “Listen to the radio for any length of time and you’d think country fans are all in a state of extended adolescence, what with middle-aged men celebrating keg party plasticware and lyrics like “Girl, you make my speakers go boom boom” serving as deep expressions of love.”

    Never has anyone summed the state of country music up so well. Hat tip, y’all.

  2. Barry Mazor
    June 19, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Yeah. Of course, there’s an endless, constant flood of TV commercials, sitcoms and movies today portraying young men as exactly the same sort of impacted 12 year old dumbasses–and encouraging them to be that fellah and, naturally, to buy products that assume or prove they are.

    So isn’t it swell of Don Williams (and also, editor Thanki) to remind us that some men are actually men.

  3. Ben Foster
    June 19, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Great review, Juli. Buying it!

  4. nm
    June 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Mmmmmmm, Don Williams.

  5. Paul W Dennis
    June 19, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Don is always a little understated, which is a refreshing change from a lot of the bombastic dreck currently flooding the market. Personally I’d give this album 4.5 stars and yes, I agree that a longer playing time would have been better

  6. luckyoldsun
    June 19, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    I don’t get why people are carping about the length of this album.

    Standard country albums–certainly in Williams’ heyday–consisted of 10 songs, each about 2:45-3:30 in length. This one, at 35 minutes, seems to be right in there. Heck, it’s longer than any of the early classic albums of George Strait (ie “Strait Country,”) or Randy Travis (ie “Storms of Life.”)

  7. Jeremy Dylan
    June 19, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    35 minutes is around the perfect length for an album of any genre. Sgt Pepper is 39 minutes. So is Born to Run. Red Headed Stranger is 33 minutes.

    • Juli Thanki
      June 19, 2012 at 8:17 pm

      Those are all fantastic records, and they were released in the vinyl age. One side of an LP holds, what, about 18-20 minutes of music? Now that music is mostly sold digitally and on CD, artists aren’t tied as tightly to the time constraints that they were with vinyl.

      Maybe Williams made this record with a vinyl release, or the records he made thirty years ago, in the forefront of his mind — I don’t have the LP, but I’m betting it sounds pretty good — but speaking as someone who just likes good country music sung by a great singer, I’d have liked to hear a couple more songs, especially since this is the first album of new stuff we’ve heard from him in a long time. YMMV, of course.

  8. Ben Foster
    June 20, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I imagine people tend to expect longer playing times now that we’re in the CD age, in which albums can easily have twenty-plus tracks. I sometimes tend to prefer a simple ten-track set that can be easily listened to in one sitting, but I sure don’t mind a longer play time when the music is as fine as it is here.

    I definitely second Paul’s above comment with regard to Williams’ understated quality. In listening to this album, I was again struck by how simple and sparse the arrangements are, and how straightforward and unadorned Williams’ performances are. Not to say that that’s any kind of departure for Don Williams, but it is a striking – and refreshing – difference from most of the music we hear today.

  9. Ben Foster
    June 20, 2012 at 9:44 am

    By the way, yes, this album is also available in vinyl format, which I’m thinking I just might have to get.

  10. Rick
    June 20, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Paul W. Dennis said: “Don is always a little understated, which is a refreshing change from a lot of the bombastic dreck currently flooding the market.”

    Hey, that sounds like something I would say except I would have said “… from a lot of the mediocre and bombastic AirHead Country dreck currently flooding the market.”…(lol)

    Are there any more “Tusla Time” level songs on this album? Hmm…

  11. luckyoldsun
    June 20, 2012 at 10:20 pm

    I think Don is good when he has the material, but his last few albums were inconsequential. I hope this new one is a return to relevancy for him.

    I can’t think of a better country single than “Good Old Boys Like Me.” I guess Bob McDill, the writer, deserves much of the credit, but Don definitely brought it to life.

  12. Leeann Ward
    June 21, 2012 at 5:05 am

    I can’t believe how good and strong his voice still is at 71. Impressive.

  13. Barry Mazor
    June 21, 2012 at 8:35 am

    There are definitely good songs. I think “I Just Came Here for the Music” is a new classic..They DO write ‘em like that any more..

    {Truth in commenting: I don’t review records when I had any hand in them –and if you look at Don’s website you’ll see that I interviewed him and did the bio for this release. He doesn’t do interviews any more, and I rarely do that sort of work, but I’ve wanted to get to interview him, so this was a way to get that time–and a pleasure.)

  14. Blake Boldt
    June 21, 2012 at 10:05 am

    I can’t add much more to the conversation than to say this album, much as Connie Smith’s was last year, is a welcome return to the fold by a great and still-relevant artist.

  15. Roy Biakpara
    June 21, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Glad to see there a lot of people who appreciate true country music. Don always goes for the heart cos that’s where the songs originate in the first place. It’s a treasure certainly.

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