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Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013

K.C. Williams

The Best of KC Williams (KEW Records)

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If Milwaukee country singer K.C. Williams didn't make issues of his ethnicity and geography, it's doubtful many other people would, either. But after several years and a few albums, this African-American chose to include songs referencing his heritage on this so-far-so-good career anthology. If such songs distinguish him from the pack of local talent in the genre, good for him, but even more engaging is his neo-traditional honky-tonking, free of signifying gimmickry. Give him credit for the moxie it takes to rhyme "beer holder" and "centerfold'er" and a couple other outrageous lyrical moves.

Williams hangs on to the emphatic percussion that abetted the growth of boot-scootin' country dance club culture in the ’90s. Vocally, he's best when not laying his quirks on too thickly and sticking to his naturally twangy baritone. It's interesting to hear how he negotiates his relationship to country's biggest black star, Charley Pride; in one number, he sings of how he owes his career to Pride, and in another, he tells him to eat his heart out.