The problem with reviewing an album by Keller Williams is his music is so enjoyable on one level, and so dissatisfactory on another. If I were at a party full of good-looking hippie women, who I could tell were not the controlling types, Williams’ comfortable grooves and sonorous voice, which are on full display on Odd, would please me like some sort of gourmet dish that successfully combined watermelon and bacon. But sitting in my beach house listening to it with close scrutiny, the album—specifically the lyrics—often comes across as rinky-dink. Instrumental sections, like the synthesizer interlude on the first track, “Environmental Song,” are lush and mellow.
Even though the sentiment the lyrics express, we’re all going to die, so take time to take time, is one I try to practice, it has been said too many times and in too many superior ways. The same can be said of “Groove of the Storm”: a familiar idea better expressed. In this case by renowned lyricist Jimmy Buffett: “Scratch my back with a lightning bolt. Thunder rolls like a bass drum note. The sound of the weather is heaven’s ragtime band.” Or in Williams’ words: “With thunder as the band, and, damn, they were rockin’. And the lightning danced around like a trippin’ hippie to her favorite band.”
And yet I wonder if such analysis is akin to trying to examine the work of Kim Kardashian with a post-feminist-neo-deconstructionist lens? Perhaps I am using the wrong mental contraption? Changing a tire with a blow torch? Williams anticipates this with “Day at the Office.” He knows the hipster douches who wrote for the late Blender magazine must pan his albums, or else Crom will be displeased. He also knows post-jam slightly-douchie hipsters like me will label his lyrics as silly. He simply does not care. And if you’re one of his fans, I understand you do not care, either. Besides, I’m really just stating the obvious: A hippie album with weak lyrics? What is this world coming to? “Tundra,” after all, is a nice little bluegrassy tune about cold mountain air being superior to summertime in Virginia, which I am currently experiencing. “Song for Fela,” which concludes the album, brings the space funk you just can’t deny. Just as the album brings a lot of what a lot of people look for in music: a breezy escape from reality.