Raffaela Kenny-Cincotta | June 05, 2018
If you ever drop by one of DJ Williams’ eclectic performances, then you’ll be pleased to hear his electric guitar cut deep grooves between horns and basslines galore. With Live From Over Where, Williams brings his Shots Fired band from the stage into your headphones, collecting live cuts from shows in Los Angeles, San Diego and Richmond, Va. (as well as a couple of studio cuts). The guitarist started Shots Fired in 2016, and when he’s not playing with Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, he invites a rotating lineup of skilled players to surround him as a kind of musical nucleus. Live From Over Where includes contributions by Karl Denson, Soulive drummer Alan Evans and trumpeter Rashawn Ross of Dave Matthews Band, just to name a few. And while these special guests certainly bolster Williams’ work, he shines as the project’s lead architect. “That’s funky as shit right there,” he declares on his own “Monk Strap.” And he’s not wrong. The track is entrenched in a ‘70s-style boogie that would make any funk aficionado kick up their platform shoes. In fact, with the exception a few choice covers—like a vocoderlaced version of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”—Williams’ original compositions stand out on this release. They’re impressive because of their technicality, sure, but they also radiate Williams’ own sense of strength. Considering the guitarist’s harrowing and unnecessarily inhumane experience as a prisoner of the United Arab Emirates in 2017, his self-assuredness on this album is both relieving and empowering. “This record is truly the voice of my artistic vision on stages of places I call home around people I truly love,” Williams writes in the album’s liner notes. As a debut release from a talented and ambitious young guitarist, Live From Over Where is not only an exciting contribution to the funk canon, but also a worthy chapter in Williams’ story.