Avec ses propres techniques multi-instrumentales, étant ambidextre et pedidextre, et des influences allant des jeux vidéo aux griots ouest-africains, Yasmin Williams est vraiment un guitariste du nouveau siècle, qui n’hésite pas à subvertir le cliché de l’homme blanc dominant les techniques de guitare fingerstyle. C’est aussi le cas d’Urban Driftwood (2021), son dernier album pour et d’aujourd’hui. Bien que le disque soit instrumental, ses chansons suivent l’arc narratif de 2020, illustrant à la fois un parcours personnel et l’histoire nationale, à travers les compositions lyriques évocatrices de Williams.


Yasmin Williams sits on her leather couch, her guitar stretched across her lap horizontally with its strings turned to the sky. She taps on the fretboard with her left hand as her right hand plucks a kalimba placed on the guitar’s body. Her feet, clad in tap shoes, keep rhythm on a mic’d wooden board placed under her. Even with all limbs in play, it’s mind boggling that the melodic and percussive sounds that emerge are made by just one musician, playing in real time. With her ambidextrous and pedidextrous, multi-instrumental techniques of her own making and influences ranging from video games to West African griots subverting the predominantly white male canon of fingerstyle guitar, Yasmin Williams is truly a guitarist for the new century. So too is her stunning sophomore release, Urban Driftwood, an album for and of these times. Though the record is instrumental, its songs follow a narrative arc of 2020, illustrating both a personal journey and a national reckoning, through Williams’ evocative, lyrical compositions.