Elevate Difference

Here Come the Vikings

Astrid Williamson is a Scottish-born musician, who has been compared to Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac and lists among her influences the canon of American singer-songwriters, such as Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. Though I like where Williamson is coming from on her fourth solo album, Here Come the Vikings, and the album has some decent ideas for pop tunes, I have two major problems with this album: the songs aren’t well executed and don’t provide any surprises.

Here Come the Vikings is Williamson's first self-produced album. Each song on seems to have the kernel of a really good song in it, but this is overshadowed by major flaws of some kind that might have been worked out by letting the song stew a bit longer or getting some additional input. When listening to the album, the thing that stuck out the most was how often I thought about shortening this or that song or choosing different background instruments.

Williamson’s voice isn’t the greatest either. I appreciate that this is her real, unadulterated voice, but on tracks like “Storm,” it sounds reedy and uneven. She sounds better on more sultry numbers like “How You Take My Breath Away” where emotion might appropriately crack the voice. The best track on the record is “Slake,” which features spoken word and seems to only include a chorus as an afterthought.

Of course, all of this would be irrelevant if the songs were well-written and innovative. No one has ever accused Dylan of having a lovely voice, and few question his musical importance. But the songs on Here Come the Vikings just aren’t that great. Sometimes they start out good and then peter out or circle in on themselves. Other times they just annoy. They seem to rehash ideas we’ve seen before—the piano ballad, the more rockin’ song about sex, the breathy, slow number—but without enough surprises to make them worth another listen.

Maybe having a producer is not such a bad idea.

Written by: H. V. Cramond, September 11th 2009