White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams
2018 Curry Cuts
When Andrew Curry, the mastermind behind White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams, first publicly announced the project, I was very excited. Not because I am incredibly familiar with the works of Paul Williams (because I’m not) but because I know several artists who are huge fans of Williams and I knew that they would jump at the chance to be on this collection. I am happy to say that all of those artists are indeed on this loving tribute.
Being unfamiliar with most of the songs on the album, this was my chance to get to know music that I should have known all along. Curry and company did not disappoint.
Leading off the collection is the spectacular “Evergreen,” as performed by The Davenports. Adding bounce and excitement to the 1976 ballad from the film A Star is Born, The Davenports lead us down a very fun path that continues throughout the album. The New Empire follow with a peppy rendition of “Special to Me” that takes the song an even more theatrical direction than the original. Actually, after listening to this and the other song on White Lace and Promises that were originally from Phantom of the Paradise (Minky Starshine’s “The Hell of It”) I’d challenge Curry Cuts to release a second Williams collection covering the entire soundtrack.
Speaking of soundtracks, The Muppet Movie is well represented here. Pop super producer Andy Reed appears with a wonderful take on one of my favorite songs of all-time, “Rainbow Connection.” Imagine if Burt Bacharach and Brian Wilson decided to cover a Paul Williams song and I am certain this is what we would have heard. The Corner Laughers turn in the whimsical “Movin’ Right Along” as only they can. The wonderful Karla Kane handles the Kermit lines while KC Bowman covers the Fozzie Bear part with ease. They capture the fun of the original perfectly, keeping it quick and quirky. Brandon Schott rounds out the Muppet songs with the touching “I’m Going to Go Back There Someday” and it feels as if the song was made for him.
Many years ago, I had a very long conversation with Lisa Mychols about Paul Williams. I was very happy to see that she is involved in this tribute and her rendition of “You and Me Against the World” is quite wonderful. She handles all of the harmonies herself while Tom Richards provides the backing track. The song is a perfect lead-in for Cliff Hillis’ exceptional take on the Carpenters hit “Rainy Days and Mondays.”
The first time I ever heard “Let Me Be the One” it was actually a cover by Matthew Sweet. For years it was my personal favorite version of the song. Well that has all changed now, thanks to Michael Simmons. He takes an already classic song and adds all the right touches to make this an even more perfect song.
Other favorites include Cait Brennan’s not-so-old fashioned version of “An Old Fashioned Love Song,” Corin Ashley’s touching “We’ve Only Just Begun,” Andrea Perry’s “Fill Your Heart” (which I always thought was a David Bowie original) the rocker “To Put Up With You” by Ballzy Tomorrow and the show-stopping “The Love Boat Theme” by The Test Pressings.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for me on the album is Greg Pope’s “Waking Up Alone.” Oh, not because I didn’t know about Pope and his ability to turn in a great pop song, but because I knew nothing of the song. This was the first song from this collection that I had heard and I just couldn’t stop listening. What a great song. I went back to listen to the 1971 Paul Williams original and yes indeed this is a wonderful song from beginning to end. Pope’s cover brings it into the now and makes what would be a wonderful pop single.
For long time fans of his music, White Lace and Promises: The Songs of Paul Williams will certainly be a delight. For those who aren’t too familiar with Paul Williams, like myself, this is a great introduction to a fantastic body of work.
Thank you Curry Cuts. I’ve got some homework to do.
Adam A Waltemire
Pop Garden Radio