Williams’ Cascade of Lyrics Rushes By
At the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Wednesday, Dar Williams struck a slightly dizzy, humorously free-associating between-songs persona to set up her accounts of youthful or psychic growing pains, with the emphasis more on the growing than the pains.
A product of the Boston folk scene, Williams has moved into folk-rock with her latest album, “End of the Summer.” Her band’s rhythm section was feisty and only a little obtrusive, but overall the colors and textures of the music were cut blandly from standard contemporary folk-rock patterns.
Williams’ songs such as “What Do You Hear in These Sounds,” a seriocomic but sincere ode to the healing power of psychotherapy, call for lighting candles of hope and encouragement instead of cursing the darkness. But, after a promising, starkly sad opening number, “If I Wrote You,” too often her cascades of lyrics rushed by, failing to draw a listener in. The arrangements lacked distinctive hues that might have enhanced the impact of her words. It was a pleasant evening of intelligent, often witty song craft, but not the involving session her recorded work promised.
The highlight of Williams’ set was a guest turn by opener Ron Sexsmith, the acclaimed Canadian who sang his own song, “Speaking With the Angel.” This piece about the daunting responsibilities of parenthood hit home with shining simplicity.