Born Free, Then Caged Music 2021
Lapping up this endeavor’s initial success, American player elevates his game to a new layer of melodic delights.
That’s not easy to steer a lap steel guitar into an overdrive, yet Sean Williamson acknowledges the synergic assault his chose of music weapon and heavy metal are able to create, and melds them for the second time now – a bit differently this time around. While there are inner rhymes in the titles of "Wheel Of Steel" and “Balls To The Wall” and both the debut album and its follow-up are housed in tinfoil-mirror jackets, the Milwaukeean artist has outgrown such a gimmick – although sticking to one-word song naming remains his modus operandi. What changed is the width of stylistic spectrum which has grown as well, allowing Mr. Velocihamster to cross over to progressive fusion where his mélange of genres must genuinely belong.
The horizon’s expanse is obvious from the first licks of opener “Trap” that’s throbbing with tentative romance until forceful blues riffs bring six-string harmonies to the fore to engage the listener’s guts in the tune, for the gusto applied to this fierce wail feels simply flabbergasting, the groove variance keeping one’s focus firm. Of course, smiles are guaranteed once the familiar filigree of “Misirlou” comes on as ferocious as if it was “Sabre Dance” – and as irresistible, too, just like the raging, organ-bolstered cover of “First Tube” – only there’s an art-rock shuffle of “Mate” prefacing it, busting stereo panorama and unfolding Eastern tapestry over an impressive stumble of oily lines.
Further on, the supple gallop of “Fall” seems rather cinematic, and “Safe” doesn’t fail to reveal the players’ jazz edge, but “Bury” has folk wrapped around madful swirl – aided and abetted by Matt Turner’s fretless bass – and the funky “Wean” flattens overall dynamics for a smoother ride. And then there’s a sprawling “Baba” to offer an old-time Appalachian ballad, fleshed out in hefty sheen, for a finale, and show how strong tradition is in Sean Willimson’s veins. He may have pressed balls to the wall, yet the wall that’s constantly moving and pushing the envelope, so this is not the limit at all.