State Secrets (Ordnung & Hartmann) is the new 10-song disc from singer-songwriter Robert Williams. Produced by George Marinelli (guitarist for Bonnie Raitt and Bruce Hornsby), the disc showcases Williams' uniquely-informed world view and lyrical, roots-driven songcraft that highlights a passionate view of life in a complicated and changing world. While his foundation as an American singer-songwriter with a solid roots spin is dominant, Robert's singular sound comes from many years spent as part of the now-infamous Hagelberger Collective, a multi-national group of like-minded musicians living and playing in Berlin in the seventies. 'It was kind of a musical commune,' says Williams, and it has infused his work with a broad musical range including a fondness for the occasional cabaret-influenced waltz or jazz-inflected romp, and lyrics inhabited by an often bizarre cast of characters. Born and raised in Oklahoma, the undeniable roots flavor of his work comes from time spent living and playing in Kansas City, Houston, Austin, and Burlington, Vermont. (He currently lives in Cairo, Egypt nine months of the year.) Highlights of the new disc include the title cut, 'State Secrets.' The mandolin and guitar-propelled waltz weaves it's way through a champagne haze of half-remembered images of last night's rendezvous. The ghost of Marlena, a broken-nosed bouncer, and Wig Lady all whirl by in an ex-patriate's seeming nightmare of too much Ouzo ('it's bad for the gig') and secrets better kept safe. Underneath it all, runs a vein of Texas twang and country harmonies on the refrain. 'Buffalo Billy' blends the gloriously melodic, lilting guitar lines of Williams and George Marinelli with a bit of ethereal dobro in a poignant glimpse of an aging hippy looking for the life that has passed him by. In keeping with the album's international flavor, Robert traveled to Toronto to record the dobro and soaring harmonies on the refrain with Hagelbergers Stephen Miller and Shelley Beal. 'How Long ('Til the End of the World)' marries an all-out Texas roadhouse romp to a killer hook in a song of outrage, mocking the righteousness of those seeking 'eternal salvation at a bargain price' from the midnite hucksters on cable television. Williams' agile lyrics highlight this riff-driven bit of rootsy pop sensibility.
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