Saturday 8 February 2020

Andy Williams - "It's so easy" 1970 - analysed

Among 'Middle of the Road' singers (as they used to be called) Andy Williams stands in the front rank for quality of voice and musicianship. This can be seen in the 1970 hit single It's so easy.

The song begins with a cheery musical introduction that establishes its rhythmic style as a pastiche of the Motown beat (Ba Dum-dum, Ba Dum-dum); but the tune and lyrics are typical of the mainstream mood and melodies of the late sixties. This is Light Music - tuneful, toe-tapping, well-crafted but using standard situations and phrases. Good of its kind, but neither attempting nor displaying depth.

However, the thing about a great singer is that they transcend their material by something in the quality of the voice. Williams musicianship is evident in the way that he begins this short piece in an unhurried fashion, singing it 'straight' and in the middle register (mid-range) of the voice; just letting the listener appreciate his lovely, natural, effortless but absolutely distinctive tone. Evident is his ability both to sing perfectly on the beat and to use subtle syncopations once that is established.

But Williams was a virtuoso popular tenor, whose upper range and top notes were thrilling. Like nearly all the best tenors, his voice gets better as it goes higher, the vibrato faster - more dramatic. The song 'builds" throughout the second time through; he goes up an octave for certain passages, and hits the heights ("You make it easy").

The really special feature of this recording comes after about one minute, in the middle bridge section between the two verses. Williams starts with "Together you and me" and continues to hold the note right through 16 bars to include the first phrase of the next part of the song.

This is remarkable firstly because it is effortless, demonstrating superb control of breathing and support of the voice; and secondly because it is difficult to sing an 'ee' sound with good quality - but he does, and then transforms the vowel elegantly to the more open and resonant 'Oh', then continues seamlessly: "I never felt this way before, girl". Then he breathes again, quickly but without the slightest strain, to continue the song into the second verse, and the repeats at the end.

So: brilliant without being showy; always putting the song first - and never sacrificing the overall musical shape to vocal stunts.

Andy Williams could also be a very moving singer, as with that perfect ballad Solitaire, music by Neil Sedaka, words by Phil Cody - where Williams produces the definitive performance.


William Wildblood said...

I'm ashamed to say I would probably have looked down on this sort of stuff at the time but now I really enjoyed the bouncy, happy quality of the song and, of course, he is a great singer. It may be as light as a feather but there's a kind of joyfulness about it which is very appealing.

mobius said...

Thanks for the reminder.