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Radio reminiscence: Dar Williams’ love of listening to music on the airways influenced her latest effort

Dar Williams’ latest album was quite a journey – literally.

The singer-songwriter traveled to various areas to write and record pieces of her album “Emerald.”

“The seeds had been planted along the way,” she says during a recent phone interview. “I usually get inspiration in small doses. When it was time to write, I traveled to whoever I was recording with. This gave me an opportunity to work with some great people, but also see some great friends.”

Williams recorded in Nashville, Tenn., Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Beacon, N.Y., and Weehawken, N.J.

“Emerald” features a remarkable list of guest musicians and co-writers, including guitar virtuoso Richard Thompson, Jim Lauderdale, Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman of the Hooters and Suzzy and Lucy Wainwright Roche.

Williams says the song, “FM Radio,” set the album in motion.

As she was preparing to teach her Wesleyan University course, she played a show at which she shared a bill with Jill Sobule.

“I told her about the era I was covering,” she says. “And her incredible joy in talking about the ’70s and the way that we loved music then was the beginning of the song ‘FM Radio.’ When I started to write it, I immediately asked if she wanted to do a co-write. It was a lot of great conversations on the phone, one really fun day in New York City, and one really fun day in the studio.”

“Emerald” also marks Williams’ first album as an independent artist. After more than 20 years with Razor & Tie, Williams let her contract end.

She’s taken the lead on getting the album out and marketing the entire tour.

“There’s no record business anymore,” she says. “I’ve always been hands-on with my business and I learned a lot along the way. It would have felt wrong for me to stay with the record label and them do all the marketing when no one buys records anymore. It does feel great to be able to make all the decisions and I will make more money doing it on my own.”


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