In a seventeen-year career as a performer on the folk circuit, Dar Williams has come to epitomize the idealized version of the coffeehouse singer-songwriter: thoughtful, intimate, a weaver of stories that deliver with such quiet emotion you might find yourself crying without even knowing why. She’s just released her version of a greatest-hits album, the double-length “Many Great Companions,” which not only offers up twenty of her best-loved songs, but also features twelve new acoustic recordings, many in collaboration with the likes of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Gary Louris of the Jayhawks, who also produced the album. We may live in a time where you can’t flip a coin without hitting a singer-songwriter, but it’s a rare and precious coin indeed if it turns up the likes of Williams. Her cover of The Kinks’ “Better Days” not only soars with its melancholy optimism, but it invokes a new appreciation for the songwriting of the Davies brothers. And her own compositions, like “Spring Street” and “The Babysitter’s Here,” connect with a beautiful sense of the everyday stories that compel our lives forward. I’m new to the Dar Williams songbook, but I’ve become mesmerized by its mix of intelligence, musicality and vulnerability. (Brian Hieggelke)
October 26 at Evanston Space, 1245 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, (847)492-8860. 8pm. $30.