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Wednesday, June 20, 2001

One-man band

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2001 at 12:00 AM

You love Keller Williams. You love his whimsical attitude. You love his toothy grin. You love his unexplainable need to make you smile, laugh and dance. Problem is, you may not know it yet. No big deal, just pick up Loop and you’ll realize your capacity for love.

As you listen to this completely live CD, you will become confused. Trust me, you will, no matter how smart you are. “This is one guy?” you’ll think. “No way!” But it is, and no, he does not have five arms, four mouths and a hundred fingers. He’s just a normal guy, playing some music to entertain you. Keller uses a phrase sampler, a pedal that loops a guitar, drum or vocal segment (hence the album title, Loop). This makes Keller Williams sound like the Keller Williams Band. He plays a bass line, then loops it and accompanies it himself. He plays a quick bongo drumbeat that echoes throughout an entire song. He beatboxes, he scats and sings over his vocal gymnastics. He layers his guitar like lasagna. He harmonizes with himself. He can sound like a trumpet, a tuba or a snare drum, and then he is able to loop these sounds over and over and weave his guitar work and lyrics around them. He is a circus: the clowns, the lions, the trapeze artist and the ringmaster all at once.

While Williams’ past solo releases have been entertaining, none of them have been stellar. This new album either reflects an incredible leap of maturity or a magic that was hidden all along, finally captured within a recording. On “More Than a Little” Keller sings, “Funkity funk it lingers/the funk that gets you high/Funkity funk it lingers/like peanut butter on rye.” This holds very true, as songs from an afternoon of listening will spill into the next day and the next week. You will hum and sing them repeatedly, constantly, mercilessly until your friends pelt you with rocks and demand that you stop. Acoustic guitar solos pepper the album, demonstrating Keller’s deft mariachi-like talent, then slide effortlessly into another song. Concert favorites such as “Kiwi and the Apricot,” “Kidney in a Cooler,” “No Hablo Español” and “Stupid Questions” finally pop up in Loop, much to the delight of more seasoned Keller fans. However, no matter who you are, Keller will find a way to plunk, plink, slap, scat, stroke and strum his way into your heart.

E-mail Joshua Gross at


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