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Keller Williams, “M&Ms”

Nov 20, 2018

Keller Williams,

Music made by Keller Williams, but without his whimsical, sideways, and often silly songwriting perspective might seem like a counterintuitive concept for a record, but Sans, his latest album, leans into just that concept, featuring nine purely instrumental tunes. Williams inhabits an equal parts entrancing and perplexing center of a Venn diagram that includes among its constituent circles bluegrass, jamgrass, musical humorism, satire, and instrumental prowess that combines flatpicking sensibility with Phil Keaggy-style ingenuity and song structure. It’s as if you dumped every single goddamn flavor of M&Ms candy you could find into one giant bowl and dared listeners to try their luck and grab a handful that made sense.

Of course, a handful of delicious, if not suspiciously harlequin, sweets will almost always excite glee, and “M&Ms,” a frenetic guitar/percussion/arco bass bounty unto itself most certainly does. It’s a kaleidoscope; a frenzy; a nearly perfect distillate of Williams’ singular personality, so potent that you almost don’t miss his lyrics — especially given the marked lyricism of the interplay between the looped guitar tracks throughout. The ebb and flow of the arrangement cast a wide array of colors and shades, each sugary scoop different from the last, but just as delicious; the “M&Ms” flavors in this bowl are not peanut, or pretzel, or classic, they’re trance, dance, jam, fingerstyle, loop station, foot-tapping, harmonic-plucking, sternum-vibrating bass, and many, many others as yet to be named. It deserves a taste.

Photo credit: Taylor Crothers

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Keller Williams,
Keller Williams,