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“There’s Amanda Jo Williams’ voice — a playful, birdlike instrument, flitting around her country-fried arrangements like an intrepid hummingbird. And then there’s what she’s saying; she delivers her lickety-split vignettes and stream-of-consciousness observations as if she expects you to be on the same page, immediately. If you missed her first three albums, it’s worth getting there. Her fourth album, “You’re the Father of My Songs” offers yet another thrill ride through her active imagination, and it features contributions from John Frusciante (playing piano and organ), Fool’s Gold’s Brad Caulkins and Laena Geronimo. We’ve heard Williams bristles at the term “freak-folk,” so we’ll just think of this one as fun-house folk. By the most interesting Amanda in our music library.”
“Alternative Americana's most courageous chanteuse is authentic in ways that make her innate weirdness a blessing on the musical landscape. Amanda Jo Williams appeals to me for the sheer anarchy of her approach to songwriting and performance, and possibly life in general...she and her entire ensemble cast of musicians just seem to fall from the sky on these LPs, and with this esoteric and cryptic material, and smash down intact and whole to present this extraordinarily quirky vision. Amanda Jo defies the strictures of music-done-regular and her band provides uncommon expansion of her artistic vision. That's my take, taken in recognition of the fact that some people will hear the first few measures of an Amanda Jo track and do one of those "WTF" things. I feel bad for those people. One day we may learn that Amanda crawled out of that old cold trap, like that kid in "The Ring" did from that old well, intent upon destroying our world's mundane boundaries, musical and otherwise.”
“Experiencing Amanda Jo Williams in ones ears at first listen might draw comparisons to Talking Heads filtered through couch weed, mixed down with a sweet micro bourbon; it is an acquired yet refined taste. She comes at you from left field with a bit of a strange look and an uppercut of a musical hook behind those grooves of hers. How do you put a neat tidy bow on someone who defies categorization? You don’t. AMJ is in a class all of her own honed by years of hitting the L.A. circuit and developing her craft. It’s not really country in the Cash sense or the Shania Twain vein. It feels more like she channels those old time westerns, but her voice throws you into another dimension of late night television from the seventies circa Night Gallery and The Twilight Zone. That child like ‘Shirley Temple’ timbre that is juxtaposed against jagged tones is just so unexpected and yet welcomed it completes the surreal experience that is Williams.”
“With You’re The Father, AJW has succeeded in biting her thumb at all would-be musical comparisons and instead has created a group of songs that live on their own idiosyncratic plane of existence. We experience an auditory watercolor where the southern-country paintbrush has been dragged through the musical color palette and swirled all over the place. It’s prismatic, speckled with novel twists and turns, and unencumbered by genre baggage of convention.”
“The answer is that this is the most fleshed out and sophisticated set of songs("You're The Father Of My Songs") that she’s produced to date. Williams’ still may not be the easiest artist to absorb, but it’s safe to say that her latest album is her most intriguing and satisfying offering yet.”
“Quirky and off-kilter are much overused terms to describe anything slightly out of the ordinary, but not for Amanda Jo Williams, You’re The Father Of My Songs is more the latter than the former, ranging from psychedelic seasick shanties to country gospel and straight-up unashamed pop. But, lurking beneath the surface, is something altogether a bit more dangerous that every so often snaps and snarls and never lets the listener settle into any type of comfort zone and that, you suspect, is just how she likes it.”
“Amanda Jo Williams is one of the strangest voices we've heard in the world of music in quite some time. It's hard to try and explain exactly what she's doing...and she certainly isn't easily categorized or pigeonholed. The songs are strange concoctions with intriguing winding melodies, curious lyrics, and...of course...that instantly identifiable voice. We've very impressed with what we're hearing here...mainly because this lady is operating in a world all her own. Totally peculiar stuff...highly recommended. Top pick.”
“Deftly sidestepping any easy categorization, whether it be freak folk or Americana, William’s acoustic ruminations are anything but simple and fall somewhere between the religious sacraments of The Louvin Brothers and the hellfire and brimstone rock of 16 Horsepower–though there is a sly dark humor that seems to radiate outward from within her songs. Her airy, high pitched vocals lend the whole preceding a sense of musical naivete, similar to Joanna Newsom–but you would be remiss if you thought her anything less than determinedly serious.”
“Musically, the only comparison I can seem to draw for The Bear Eats Me would be the Muppets band doing their absolute best send-ups of classic country and lite rockabilly.The general impression the record gives off is that of mirth, dutifully measured out and anchored by a rich bounty of grace notes (e.g. the poignant downward chord turn on the opener, the ebullient hooks of the title track, etc.). Sometimes the music’s sonic consistency can verge more on taxing than transporting (nearly every percussive track sounds like some mild variant on thumping bass drum and clapping snare) but within that consistent core is the bedrock of Williams’ confident character, which makes The Bear Eats Me a beacon-like example of how whimsy can sound balanced and nuanced, how humor can be deeply evocative and create fresh narratives in a context outside of rap, and—perhaps most importantly—how modern country/folk can sound vital and distinct.”
"The Bear Eats Me” is, I promise, like nothing you have heard before. Don’t expect sweet, insipid little tunes about cute boyfriends and broken girly hearts. Williams’ often sing-song lyrics reflect the voice of dark times, strange forms of affection and ideas at the edge of rationality. In short, it is really weird, but you just like it and you can’t explain why.
“Georgia native with her fourth release. Williams has a very unique voice - maybe a mix of Jolie Holland and Sallie Ford. It’s very magnetic, playful and wise. The sound is a bizarrely skewed amalgam of country, indie, folk, ???. This is the kind of weird stuff KZSU should be proud of having. All songs worth a play.”
“Amanda Jo Williams is an angel-voiced beauty. Well, she's close enough for me. Some have called her freak-folk, but I don't know about that. I know that she's got some soul in that voice, as you can hear in her new album (released June 19 via Neurotic Yell Records). The Georgia native turned American traveler has created a wonderful record "The Bear Eats Me." It’s a folky mix of country and pop with great instrumentals that would be right at home on the Splash Mountain ride at Disneyland. That's a very high compliment coming from someone with a Disney annual pass.”
“Hailing from Hogansville, GA, Amanda Jo Williams returns fully charged with foot-stomping jubilance on her sophomore solo release, The Bear Eats Me. Williams' offbeat singing style is uninhibited and varied; she uses her lively, clipped delivery to mimic the staccato notes of her strings (or conversely, they're made to match hers) and, at other times, stretches out a syllable to clearly accentuate her hillbilly drawl. Her sound (a pastiche of genres) combines the twangy rowdiness of country rockabilly with rootsy, weird Americana, along with experimental meanderings of psychedelic punk. It's all raucous and wonderfully off-kilter.”
“One minute, Amanda Jo Williams is in the cosmos. The next, she’s in control. The Georgia-bred, L.A.-based songstress is hard to keep up with over the 43 minutes of her new album “The Bear Eats Me” (out Tuesday on Neurotic Yell Records), but that’s half the fun. The other half is playing free association with her cherub’s voice: Here, with childlike wonder, are songs for dank saloons, frisky barn dances, family picnics, long drives on dirt roads and longer afternoons on porch swings. Somehow her time in L.A. hasn’t diminished her ability to go those places musically; in fact, she’s one of a kind in a folk scene that continually seems to breed (or attract) boundary-pushers. Stomp if you must.”
“Among the many aspects of Amanda Jo Williams that make her so fascinating is a kind of open-wound aspect to her work, not in the usual sense of juvenile angst and heartbreak but in the raw, visceral sense of surgical wounds popping open to release pent-up butterflies. There is beautiful, ugly subtext underlying every tricky narrative, like windows into the mind of an old soul that has been freed of all but alternative insights and open admissions in a world that worships artifice as norm. Catchy songs with beautiful passages and brilliant musicianship, if a little heavy handed in parts. Amanda Jo has a 4-star vision for what she wants this to be and an excellent supporting cast. Maybe a genius producer is all that is between her and a masterpiece.”
“Don’t be mistaken: this isn’t your parent’s country. But lurking behind that squeaky little voice is a bold piece of songwriting imbued with a character and sense of sheer determination that you would have a hard time finding anywhere else. As Williams sings on “The Bear Eats Me,” “all I’m saying is have a little faith in me,” and that faith can leave you with an intriguing payoff in the end.”
““The Bear Eats Me,” her latest record (out June 19 on Neurotic Yell Records) featuring a full band this time around, is the fruition of her many intriguing idiosyncrasies: the sweet and sour, the playful coos and seduction, the minimal and cosmic country. Williams’ bare-bone songs such as the record’s title track is loaded arsenal once again filtered through her girlish Georgia twang, providing an imbalance that continues to captivate.”
“Comparisons? Try Hank Williams Jr., Joanna Newsome, Melanie or June Carter, Lucinda Williams as well. But that’s not all, there is a surreal taste to the album, something quirky and off-kilter. Add Devendra Banhart to the list and you’ll be getting somewhere in the vast musical playground that Amanda Jo Williams inhabits.”
“Most critics agree on the praise for Amanda Jo Williams. Although her voice is highly idiosyncratic, with a clawing southern drawl and punchy delivery, her songwriting is inventively addictive; the contrast is like sweet and sour, blending together with a seemingly natural intent. “The Bear Eats Me”, off her album of the same name, reminds me of original folk innovators like Malvina Reynolds and Karen Dalton, who would stay true to the genre’s barebone minimalist tendencies, all while touting their unique arsenal instead of futile attempts to cloak it.”
“Listening to her is kind of like chewing nervously on the insides of your mouth: It seems wrong but you just can’t help it, and the pain and faint salty taste of blood is strangely satisfying.”
“This ain’t the alt-country you grew up with. It’s more indie-rock country, and in a live setting it’s pretty whacked stuff. Slide guitars and bent-up acoustic sounds float all around her alien-like tunes. It’s different from one song to the next, especially on record. “My Hot Makes You Crazy” sounds like Joey Ramone if he were born in West Virginia. “Sick and Dying” is one of those traditional minor-chord stompers, only in Williams’ hands it sounds like something Ween might have left off of “12 Golden Country Greats.” “Ohio” pops out at you with the venom of an evil clown, but not the kind you want to stomp and beat but rather one you wouldn’t mind hanging with for a little bit ... before stomping and beating him.”
“Her soul-capturing tone makes you forget your age – makes you even forget to notice when she pulls you into her cosmic web of brilliant, eclectic simplicity and charming, surreal wonder.”
“It’s not right to say AJW comes from somewhere “out of left field,” for “left field” a destination easily seen from home plate. No, the place Williams hails from is somewhere hidden from average minds—perhaps a lost mountain valley, a deserted island or possibly a cartoon (figuratively of course; she is actually from Georgia). But her vocals are quite eccentric, sort of like Adam Sandler as an old lady, or maybe a crazed prospector from some old Western? Her backing music is often as odd, sounding much like someone hit the space bar and fired up a bunch of tracks that haven’t been laid properly yet. And the lyrics, loaded with strange word choices and subject matter—it all comes together sounding like Les Claypool writing for Sesame Street…you really need to give this lady a whirl.”
“I always felt her music was more in line with L.A.’s freak folk scene, but her newly reissued 2006 album doesn’t catalog comfortably alongside other freak folk releases. It’s really more freak punkabilly, a hybrid of swampland country and stripped-down punk rock—like Stan Ridgway combined with the Geraldine Fibbers.”
“This is rough; like haunted field recordings from a quiet apocalypse, her tiny guitar and warbling singing often the only instruments, save for reverb-soaked, ambient sounds. Despite the howls in the distance, she remains a mystic, skirting some line between aged contemplation and the weird, awesome rambling of young children when left to their own devices. And from that mixture comes something difficult and joyful. There is an expansive, a hopefulness, that constantly overwhelms whatever encroaching darkness is suggested.”
“Her music is a childlike take on fractured country folk, as if Iris Dement were more influenced by Half Japanese than the Carter Family.”
“Williams, a good ol’ girl who grew up in small-town Georgia, isn‘t known for bombast or outsized theatrics. Her work is best characterized as stripped-down, quirky pieces of poetry, the kind one might sing during campfire shindigs in the wilderness, preferably over some boiled vegetables and a pot of rabbit stew. She’s a wide-eyed woodland critter who projects a playful energy, and in wistful nursery rhymes such as “Homeheart” and “The Bear Eats Me,” she invites us into her little world of make-believe. Supported by three men on bass and guitar and two women on a toy keyboard, drums, and vocals, the band carried a free-wheeling, hippie-ish charm, like a traveling vaudeville act that just strolled into town. Off came the glasses and out came the flask, which Williams slugged like one of the guys. “This one’s for y’all,” she pronounced in a thick twang, before the lot of them launched into their performance. ”
“If Amanda Jo Williams’ latest EP, Homeheart, had a belly, I would affectionately press my lips to it and blow. Harboring a wry sense of humor and an unapologetic embrace of the odd, Williams’ penchant for theatrics make her come off as somewhat of a distaff Devendra Barnhart, though with a sound that is decidedly more niche. Homeheart is an agreeable slice of country-fried outsider folk, its tracks lullabies for the kid that sits in the back of the class.”
“The band is Lynard Skynard’s family jamming under a big tree in the front yard, at times they settle into the band where everyone is J. J. Cale. Amanda Jo Williams is Bonnie Riatt’s ‘Bluebird,’ chirping like a child, as punkish and cosmic as a Georgia raised Patti Smith too.”
"She has a new collection of recordings that clearly reveal a voice and an approach so unique that there is no doubt that it is Amanda Jo Williams to whom it belongs."
"Amanda Jo Williams brings her little surrealistic south-western universe with her on stage. Their outlaw hippie-country beats were very contagious and soon I was surrounded by a band of young girls wearing cowboy hats, and attempting to reproduce the fashion and the moves seen on stage, a cult following if there was one."
"Listening to Amanda Jo Williams’ rough-shod country-folk is like eating a squirrel stew supper before falling into bed, where you then lie awake and hear the haunted scrabbles of raccoons, coyotes and bears and wonder if you staggered out there, would you be eaten alive or inducted into some ritualistic animal society. Her primal music is an open maw to the mysteries and fears of the world. With a twang-heavy voice that sometimes breaks into manic gibberish or other cartoonish effects, she sounds like an unruly, sometimes lonely little girl left to her own devices."
"The fractured folk music on Amanda Jo Williams’ forthcoming album “Mary’s Big Feet” is much like L.A. audiences has seen her live — unpredictable and unvarnished, with scratchy guitar supporting her girlish voice, vocal acrobatics and from-the-mouths-of-babes moments. The Georgia-bred songwriter’s growing legend is built as much on her prowess as a changeling as provocateur; in all its stripped-down explorations, “Mary’s Big Feet” has moments both magical and mystical."
"Amanda Jo Williams sounds entirely out of place and time. A musician born and raised in Hogansville, Georgia she has been likened to classic country stars such as Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris for her countrified drawl and raw, ragged musical approach. But it’s her voice that really makes her stand out from the LA crowd she now finds herself playing before multiple nights of the week. ‘The Bear Eats Me’ despite comic titling possesses darker qualities; an Angela Carter style of storytelling that twists a tale of a girl and menagerie of animals into an almost creepy morphing of vocals and sinister piano interjections. A cute and quirky album of lofi, homegrown and heartfelt sounds. As much as all this is a fun, breezy ride however we’re pretty certain from the rave cult like status reviews she has been receiving Stateside; that Amanda Jo Williams’ recordings are just the icing on the cake, a little take home gift. The heart and soul of her work is on the stage it seems."
“This Georgia-bred former fashion model (who, though allegedly transient, seems to spend a lot of time in L.A.) sings and plays lovably clunky new/old country like the love child of Emmylou Harris and Jonathan Richman. [Ed.'s note: To us she sounds more like the love child of a lesbic menage à trois between Melanie Safka, Minnie Pearl and Jane Birkin, but what do we know?] She warbles like a flush-faced li'l kid going totally for broke as she bashes away at that poor old acoustic guitar. But Williams is chameleonic; dig a bit and you'll find a painful honesty in her dark, raw tales of life's woes and wonders. Onstage, she's prone to quirky chitchat and stretched-out instrumental jams, helped by a solid band that includes dancing sprite Feather on foot bells [L.A. Weekly Music lo-o-o-o-ves Feather!] and the great, versatile Alex Maslansky on guitar. ”
"Amanda Jo Williams flies the freak folk flag; in fact it's more like freak americana/alt-country."
"Amanda is truly one of a kind with her distinctive take on cosmic cowboy music."
"The nice thing about Amanda Jo Williams is that she doesn't seem to give a damn about seeming ridiculous. She has a lack of self-consciousness rarely found this side of children's records."
"This is unequivocally the best country album I've heard in years. I get just as much pleasure out of it as I get from Emmy Lou Harris or Gram Parsons or (gasp) Johnny Cash."
"Adorably uplifting freak-folk musician Amanda Jo Williams teamed up with singer-songwriter Featherbeard to perform a duet of sorts as the king and queen of the ocean. Wearing a lobster outfit made of lace and orange-red plush, Williams’ Joanna Newsom-on-helium vocals floated over her signature children’s-guitar strumming while merman-clad Featherbeard’s “Happenis Heer” drifted around like the scene’s three fish-costumed dancers."
"The opening act was a singer songwriter named Amanda Jo Williams who sang simple, brutally honest songs about relationships, and 'Ring of Fire' by Johnny Cash, in a voice that seemed to be channeling one of Sybil's 16 personalities (Peggy, I think it was... the little girl one). She also sang one of the most direct songs about fucking that I've ever heard, as if she were singing about washing dishes. Hilarious."
"Saw Amanda Jo Williams singin' and playing her kid's guitar. That girl has some balls. Went from singing 'How much is that Doggie in the Window?' to one that was, ahem, not for the kiddies ('The Sexy Love Song', which can be heard on her Myspace page). Country girl from outer space."
"Amanda Jo Williams traveled west from middle of nowhere, Georgia. She is that small town girl chasing untamable lovers. Her squeaky voice reaches as high as she is tall, with an accent that washes her in the purity of cartoons."
"Country girl Amanda Jo Williams strummed A-minor for fifteen minutes straight. Her band stomped rhythmically around her backwoods muppet ballideering."
"I was good, weird outlaw country music. If you took equal parts Loretta Lynn, Lucinda Williams, Hank Jr. and Hee Haw, threw them all together and wondered how they got that way you have a small idea what the show was like. There was a lot of love in the room last Friday night."
"If Devendra Banhart is the prince of freak folk, Amanda Jo Williams is its patron saint."
"On a mission to spread fire and music, Amanda's driven and infectious songs and honest way have entranced both communities of experimental folk musicians and audiences across Los Angeles. The hook is her vocal style, a cross of country cadence, melodic speaking and baby talk/mom talk that is instantly memorable."
"One of the most interesting singers out there right now. She is unlike anything and worthy of being followed around and documented. Someone Alan Lomax might have fallen in love with, she does seem to come from another world."
"Pure magic. Simple, mysterious, and other-worldly. Like a Sexton fairy-tale."
"An elemental strum is a bare platform to build on, but with honesty and openness you can construct a mighty vessel. Amanda Jo Williams uses chords sparingly to make the humblest of roofs over her head, just enough to keep her voice and her personality warm, safe, and raw. When I listen I tilt my head slightly to the side and let my lips curl into a curious smile, I step into her humble abode and dust off the detritus of adulthood."
".....Who doesn't’t want dessert after dinner? Amanda Jo Williams was just that. Pretty much envision the best ice cream sundae party you’ve ever been to and then all of your friends laughing and spraying whipped cream everywhere. Sounds like a party right? Amanda Jo Williams is a quirky, hip, country Georgia peach. Amanda Jo plays guitar and kick drum while friends join her on percussion, guitar, and upright bass. She sings songs about being a country girl, getting sick and dying, and bears eating her. Watching Amanda Jo Williams live and joining the country tribal dance circle is pretty much a therapeutic experience. Her lyrics are infectious and so off the wall that your own crazy thoughts start to become sane. A must see! With band members named 5-Track and Feather, Amanda Jo Williams seems almost like a superhero, building our heart rates one song at a time! Knowing how hard it is to put a show together I was really thankful for this wonderful night out."
“Amanda Jo Williams voted #5 in the Top 10 LA Bands to Watch in 2011- "Amanda's Georgia twang makes her own brand folk-rock unmistakably unique." ”
"Amanda Jo Williams’ combination of personalities and skills results in the most compelling roller coaster I’ve ridden in years—from the depths of a miniscule cracking whisper weaving tales of trauma, to the soaring heights of elongated elated instrumental breaks, Amanda Jo Williams will stop your heart, show you the light, then bring you right back again."