12 – Keller Williams
The impetus behind Keller Williams’ latest release, a retrospective titled 12 twelve songs, from twelve albums, spread across twelve years is far more than novelty. It’s a concise summation of the 37-year-old’s prolific career. Not an easy task considering the eclectic nature of Keller’s musical muses. There’s Keller with The String Cheese Incident (“Breathe”); Keller with The Keels (“Local”); Keller teamed up with a roster of venerable jamband virtuosos B Fleck, Victor Wooten and Jeff Sipe (“People Watchin’”); and Keller a carte (“More Than A Little,” “Apparition” and “Keep It Simple”).
Whatever form he takes, Keller perfectly embodies the hippie ethos. He looks the part, sporting shaggy locks and, very often times, no shoes in concert. This much anyone can recognize. But, as 12 triumphantly illustrates, Keller’s jovial spirit and overall positive message remain unwavering throughout his career. “I heard it said live simply/So others could simply live/Yes I believe in karma/And you get just what you give,” he sings on “Keep It Simple.” Coincidentally or maybe not “Simple” is the disc’s most stripped-down number, sonically speaking. Keller plays just an acoustic guitar. No rhythmic backdrop. No fodder for his widely used, but certainly deserved, “one-man jamband” accolades. His alignment with Jenny and Larry Keel yields similar results: “At the local outdoor organic, staring at the Northern Lights/First thing in the morning or the dusk before the night,” they harmonize on “Local,” a track culled from the trio’s collaborative bluegrass effort, Grass.
Keller’s complex, layered material surfaces too. He loops beatboxing, bass and guitar on the funky “More Than A Little,” from the live, aptly titled Loop. On “Apparition,” an equally impressive studio piece, Keller flexes some electronic muscle, utilizing drum samples and synthesized effects to flesh out the bridges.
It’s all here in chronological order, ready for heads looking to brush up on their K-Dub, or to others looking for a good place to start.