Once upon a time, the folkie rabble would have tossed Dar Williams to the lions for offenses against purity of heart and purse, not to mention a cover of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb." Those times are gone, as evidenced by this year's Promised Land, a radio-ready suite produced by Brad Wood (best known for work with the Smashing Pumpkins and Liz Phair), with a brightly bouncing rock-the-folk sound that puts Williams squarely in the Suzanne Vega pop-crossover camp. On "Troubled Times," she turns recycling into a hooky metaphor, and on "It's Alright" she rides a Wallflowery guitar and organ riff to co-opt an Illinois senator's playbook: "I'm my own sovereign nation, dedicated to a transformation." Delivered with her sincere trill, Williams' politics remain undiluted Blue State crack, but they're always played with unapologetic pop savvy.
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