Revising History: Kathryn Williams On Nick Drake’s Bryter Layter, Björk’s Homogenic, More

On her 2004 covers album, Relations, revered British singer/songwriter Kathryn Williams breathed new life into classics such as Nirvana’s “All Apologies,” the Velvet Underground’s “Candy Says” and Pavement’s “Spit on a Stranger.” In commemoration of the release finally reaching U.S. shores on Tuesday (via One Little Indian), the Bad Penny asked the Mercury Prize nominee to christen a new feature: Revising History.

For the feature – which is sort of an inverted version of Cover Me – Williams was asked which albums she most wishes she had created. Surprisingly, only one selection was by an artist whose song she chose for Relations: Leonard Cohen.

Below is her full Revising History docket, followed by a free download of her recent single “Just a Feeling.”

Joni MitchellBlue
I think she is one of the best lyricists there is. Every song has a line or a phrase – so natural and flowing, so poetic, but also ringing with a truth and an emotion. This record kills me every time.

Van MorrisonAstral Weeks
This is the most organic, feel-your-way piece of brilliance. It changes the air in the room, and if you put it on, you have to listen to the whole thing.

Leonard CohenSongs From a Room
This is tied in with all the first steps of adulthood. I remember staying up at someone’s bedsit and playing Scrabble, drinking wine, listening to this by candlelight, and thinking I was a grown-up artist and the possibilities were endless.

Gillian WelchTime (The Revelator)
The title song is amazing. It’s like a prophecy. My second son, Ted, came into the world to this song.

Laura VeirsCarbon Glacier
A modern classic. My first son, Louis, came into the world to this.

Nick DrakeBryter Layter
Because of the quiet, the English-ness, the space inside the songs. How it feels like a warm, melancholic blanket.

John MartynSolid Air
For similar reasons to Nick Drake, except I got to sing on his record Glasgow Walker and support him live. Because he was nice to me, even though he was a mess.

Bonnie “Prince” BillyMaster and Everyone
Any guise of his – Palace, Palace Brothers, Will Oldham – just makes the world better by being in it. My husband plays it in his café all the time.

This record hasn’t dated at all. It feels vibrant and fresh and daring. As a woman, I find Björk inspiring, not to mimic but to gain strength in being myself as she follows her path with a freedom that stretches most musical boundaries.

Tom WaitsClosing Time
Because it’s what I want to put on at the DBS of a great night out or in. It suits that heady time, it slowly walks you up to bed wobbling and giddy.

• Bad Penny download: Kathryn Williams’ “Just a Feeling

Other Bad Penny features:

• Guilty Pleasures: Humanfly On Prince, Blur, Ice Cube, More
• Cover Me: Cassorla
• What You Readin’ For?: Climber On ‘Moby Dick’
• Great Debate: TV Buddhas On Supermarket Lunches Vs. Eating Out
• Memento: Winterlings’ Autumn Harvest
The New Loud’s Favorite David Lynch Films

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