Album review: Keller Williams, ‘Vape’ has a little bit of everything

Keller Williams plays before a sellout crowd in the Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room Feb. 7. His 20th album, "Vape" was released on April 20. Tahoe Onstage photo by Clare Foster
Keller Williams plays before a sellout crowd in the Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room Feb. 7. His 20th album, “Vape” was released on April 20.
Tahoe Onstage photo by Clare Foster
Keller Williams approaches music the way most kids play. He finds something he likes and he puts all of his frenetic energy and enthusiasm into it without abandon until his parents call him in for dinner. He does it because it feels good. That is how Williams has been able to churn out 20 albums, including this latest release “Vape,” that are done in almost as many styles. He has done hippie-funk, jam rock with the String Cheese Incident, bluegrass with the Keels and McCourys, dubtastic reggae, R&B and even children’s songs. “Vape” serves up a little bit of everything with a shot of heady goodness to make it go down easy.   Vape album coverWilliams is certainly not a guy who takes himself seriously and his lo-fi ego and personality are one of the reasons he is so beloved in the live music community. He plays barefoot in shorts, for God’s sake. His lack of ego plays to his musical strengths because it allows him to pursue whatever sound or story he wishes, critics and genre be damned.   Williams tends to lean toward the goofy and “She Rolls” is a laid-back ballad of a woman who lacks inhibition and chases the thrill of kissing cops, dancing around church in her undies, and “chasing shine with wine.” It is quintessential Williams storytelling and is supported by the even more eccentric tongue-in-cheek song “Jesus’s Gun.” The track skips along as Williams explains America’s (and his) need for protection at Target with rocket launchers and ponders about what kind of heat Jesus would pack. Williams can flood his comedic musings with too much novelty, and “Making It Rain” and “Donuts” don’t offer enough substance for repeat listens. He strikes a perfect balance of substantive goofiness on “Mantra.” The tune hums with guitar, percussion, and “ohms” as Williams tries to recall his mantra. The concept is funny and Williams executes it with beautiful aplomb and succeeds in putting you in a delightful trance.   One thing that sometimes gets overlooked when talking about Williams is how accomplished he is in guitar playing and making arrangements. The album’s best offering is the heady “The Drop,” which swirls around in a trippy freak-folk manner. Violin, banjo, mandolin and guitar weave in unison to a pretty melody with drum machine accompaniment before they all drop into a low-end groove. It is an impressive arrangement with a quirkiness that few beyond Williams would have the audacity to implement. The instrumental “Off Time Chorus Line” bounces around to the acoustic funk of Williams’ unique percussive strumming and will lead many to bob their head in accordance. “High and Mighty” shows off Williams’ ability to write an earworm of a song and the “oohhs” of the hook will take some time to get out of your head.   “Vape” probably won’t attract any new fans to Williams’ base but his established fans should flock to it. Williams is as confident, creative and carefree as he has ever been and “Vape” is one of his more pleasurable releases. Pop it in your CD player and take an afternoon to roll around on the grass like a kid again and you’ll see where Williams was coming from with this album.  
  • Keller Williams “Vape” Released: April 20, 2015 Notable Tracks: “The Drop,” “High and Mighty” Purchase: LINK

ABOUT Garrett Bethmann

Garrett Bethmann
Garrett Bethmann is a graduate of University of Mary Washington with a degree in English. An eight-year resident of Lake Tahoe, he now lives in Denver, Colorado.

LEAVE A REPLY

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

@FOLLOW ME

Pandemic spurs radical changes to baseball’s draft; Reno Aces update https://bit.ly/33YZuc0 @NevadaBaseball @Aces #JaylonMcLaughlin #DBacks #Reno @j_jackson #NCAA #MLB #MiLB #MajorLeagueBaseball #Pandemic

We are going through a time that reminds us not to take anything for granted. We tell people we love them. This one today goes out to @JohnPrineMusic as we pray for his healing. -KMo #MoAtHome https://www.facebook.com/kebmo/videos/226908238507443/

#NewYorkBlues: Rory Block's mostly accoustic 'Prove It on Me' electrifies https://bit.ly/39l1zQH #RoryBlock #BluesMusic @CassieJFox #NewMusic #ProveItOnMe @KSCUblues @StonyPlainRec #WomenOfTheBlues

SEARCH TAHOE ONSTAGE

EVENTS CALENDAR

« March 2020 » loading...
S M T W T F S
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
1
2
3
4
Mon 30

Bluesdays at Squaw Valley: June 16-Sept. 8

March 30 @ 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Mon 30

High Sierra Music Festival: July 2-4

March 30 @ 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Mon 30

Carson Valley Inn Summer Concerts

March 30 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Mon 30

Valhalla Art, Music & Theatre Festival

March 30 @ 4:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Mon 30
© 2020 All Content and Images by Tahoe Onstage