I’ve been a big fan of Astrid Williamson for a long time now. First, in her incarnation as the leader of the dark, gothic, romantic band Goya Dress. Next, as her first solo persona, “Astrid”, and finally as the fully fledged “Astrid Williamson”.
I thought her 2006 CD, “Day of the Lone Wolf” had to be her masterpiece. Songs like “True Romance” and “Heaven Only Knows” could hardly be surpassed, and if it lacked the commercial edges of her first two releases, well as far as I’m concerned, so much the better.
But earlier this year, she released “Here come the Vikings”, the title maybe alluding to her Orkney background. And, well, I think it might actually be better than “Lone Wolf”, albeit quite different. This latest collection of songs has a much more upbeat feel, and a more commercial sound, but what it gains over her earlier works is a really strong coherence and consistency. It manages to combine the more pop-oriented (well, relatively speaking) approach of “Boy For You” and “Astrid” with the deeply personal feel of “Lone Wolf”, and the results are outstanding. Astrid’s song writing just keeps getting better - I understand she participates in song writing workshops, which should be quite an experience. It kicks off with the very strong, upbeat “Store” (a complete reversal from Lone Wolf’s “Siamese”) and just keeps going. Highlights, for me, include “Crashing Minis” and “Eve”, and the closing track, “The Stars Are Beautiful”, which vaguely reminds me of the Goya Dress song “The Maritime Waltz”
Sadly, there’s no way that “Here come the Vikings” is going to be heard by anywhere near as many people as it should be, but if you’re one of those that do, prepare to be captivated.