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London WC2 12-Bar Club

Her key influence, plainly, is [B]Nick Drake[/B] (especially resonant in the lulling [B]'Leazes Park'[/B] and spectral [B]'Night Come'[/B]), but there are also whispers of [B]Belle & Sebastian[/B],

When timid fragility comes in equal measure to forthright, unashamed talent, it's a thing to behold. This is Kathryn Williams. Mousy, soft-spoken singer-songwriter so anti-Establishment she seems intent upon keeping her coyly affable music inaccessible to the greedy fingers of the industry. So her debut album creeps modestly out into the world on her own record label, and we find her hunkered down under the beams of the minuscule 12-Bar Club, diffident and cautious.



Williams' minimal guitar sketches and slow, placid delivery weave a billowy web of calm. Her voice, in places uncannily like Beth Orton's, and underscored by cello, is both little-girl coy and urbanely composed. Her key influence, plainly, is Nick Drake (especially resonant in the lulling 'Leazes Park' and spectral 'Night Come'), but there are also whispers of Belle & Sebastian, Joni Mitchell and PJ Harvey in her emotive, yet undemonstrative, cadence.



Before she finishes her set with a cover of her "hero" Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah', she looks up in surprise, having just noticed the faces peering down on her from the balcony. "Oooh!" she exclaims, genuinely startled. "There are people up there!" She'd better get used to it. Even if she refuses to court the commercial, there will be those who - in thrall to these magical songs - will never let her out of their sight.

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