Alan Williams Releases Album Shelved For 25 Years This Friday

Article Contributed by 37-Media | Published on Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Alan Williams is set to release Evidence Unearthed (Blue Gentian Records), an album that was shelved for 25 years, this Friday, August 28 digitally and on CD/Blu-Ray (pre-order HERE). Today, American Songwriter is giving a sneak peek into the story behind each song with their exclusive track by track feature – read it HERE.

Williams released his debut single “Anniston” on August 14 -  listen HERE. The video, watch HERE, made its national broadcast debut on DittyTV, Monday, August 17 premiering on their “Rhythm Roots” channel at 7:00pm CT, with a rebroadcast on August 18 at 7:00am CT - see it HERE.  “Anniston” is named for a small city in Alabama and tells its story from the perspective of a narrator whose dreams of escaping it seems as doomed to evaporate as the smoke from the train engines pulling out of town. The energetic drive of the track exhibits one of the benefits of the album’s long-delayed release as Williams reconsidered the original arrangement, replacing key guitar parts to provide a more muscular, more aggressive tone that better serves the feeling of frustrated rebellion at the heart of the story.

Fans will have a chance to see a brand new online live streaming concert series, Live From The Aviary, featuring the music of Williams, performed in various musical configurations beginning this Sunday, August 30 at 4:00pm ET.  Williams leads a band that includes long-time friend and collaborator, Greg Porter and several graduates of the music program at UMass Lowell. With multiple cameras and professional audio, each performance will highlight the interaction between musicians, bringing the viewer right into the music, allowing for a more intimate connection. Somewhere between Live from Daryl’s House, Snarky Puppy’s We Like It Here, and Sigur Ros’s Heima, each one-hour live performance will focus on a different theme presented in a different musical setting.

Evidence Unearthed was conceived 25 years ago.  The year was 1993 and Alan Williams had just reached what most musicians only dream of achieving when his band Knots and Crosses (along with his then wife and bandmate) signed to Island Records.  Then in 1994, it all came crashing down.  After getting lost in the fray when Chris Blackwell sold Island Records to Polygram, the band was dropped, they decided to call it quits (cancelling their slated appearance at The Newport Folk Festival), and his marriage dissolved.  To put into words what he was feeling, Williams assembled a group of friends and headed to the Portland Performing Arts Center in Maine to record Evidence, the initial collection of twelve tracks he wrote in response to all of the upheaval. But after sending out promotional copies and despite getting positive reviews in the local Boston press, Williams lost faith in the project and shelved the album. For more than two decades, he hauled a thousand CDs (which he still has today) from apartment to apartment as some kind of penitence for having such musical aspirations.

Fast forward to today, the stunted release of his 1995 album quietly gnawed at him so he dusted it off, gave it a good listen, and to his surprise, the songs held up, and the contributions of his fellow musicians were unquestionably strong but the one flaw, in his mind, was his vocal performance. Incorporating all that he had learned in his time as a freelance engineer and producer, as well as his work with current band Birdsong At Morning, a solution emerged, redo the vocals, rework some arrangement ideas, remix the whole thing, then finally release it. A study in contrasts, Evidence Unearthed pushes the elements familiar to fans of Birdsong to wider extremes – louder and softer, more complex yet comfortable in simplicity. Now this album that both reclaims the past and points to future directions, has been resurrected.

The original sessions for Evidence Unearthed were recorded live in 1994 by Coleman Rogers (Knots and Crosses sound engineer) at the Portland Performing Arts Center (PPAC) in Portland, Maine with guitarists Rick Harris and Thomas Juliano, and Ben Wittman and Tom Hambridge on drums.  The initial round of overdubs were recorded in Williams’ apartment with “questionable electrical wiring,” says Williams, along with contributions from Laurie Sargent, Leslie Smith, Ducky Belliveau and Gene Elders. String arrangements were written and conducted by Alan Williams in 2019 by Antonio Oliart at Fraser Performance Studio, WGBH, Boston, MA.

Growing up in Asheville, NC and now making his home in Lowell, MA, Alan Williams has been writing, recording, and performing music for over forty years. He studied classical and jazz piano. His first foray into original music yielded the Hang, a band of he and fellow precocious teenagers from across the state of North Carolina, featuring lifelong collaborator Greg Porter (Aimee Mann, Patty Griffin), Holden Thorp (former Chancellor at UNC-Chapel Hill and Provost at Washington University), and Nick Robinson (practicing attorney, and father of EDM star Porter Robinson). Williams left NC to attend the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where he majored in Third Stream Studies, now known as Contemporary Improvisation, a program that has launched many talented musicians from Don Byron and John Medeski to more recent alums Aoife O’Donovan and Lake Street Dive.  Upon graduation, Williams formed the folk-rock band Knots and Crosses with Carol Noonan and Rick Harris.  They built a career in the Boston and Portland, Maine rock scene during the late ‘80s, early ‘90s and self-released two albums, Creatures of Habit (1990) and Curve of the Earth (1992), which led to the ill-fated signing with Island Records in 1993 and thus ultimately breaking up in 1994.  Despondent and at a loss for direction, Williams began working as a freelance recording engineer and producer, and after serving as musical director for Dar Williams’ first full-band tour, shifted direction and enrolled at Brown University eventually earning a PhD in ethnomusicology. Along the way he played in a number of world music ensembles and re-discovered the joys of music making. In 2008, inspired to pick up the guitar after a decade of silence, he found a new songwriting voice, and enticed Darleen Wilson and Greg Porter to join him in forming Birdsong At Morning, a band the Boston Herald described as “…music that is gentle and mellifluous, a slow drift down a lazy river,” Electronic Musician says “…is the greatest act you’ve never heard of,”  while Pop Dose said “These Massachusetts based visionaries have created a compelling and expansive sound… that will make you stop in your tracks and pay very careful attention.”  Williams continues to release albums under his own name and as Birdsong At Morning.  He is also a Professor and Coordinator of Music Business at UMass Lowell.