Essence

Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 11 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. 100
    It's a nervy progression, almost necessarily uneven because of the risks it takes, balancing a grace that soars toward aching perfection with an intimacy that elicits a squirmy discomfort.
  2. Mojo
    90
    There's no easy niche in which you can place this new statement: like Dylan's Time Out Of Mind, it ventures into a doomy, mythological area, where the directions are muddied and the heartbreak is total. [Jul 2001, p.98]
  3. Entertainment Weekly
    83
    Her folkiest, gentlest album, Essence is a steamy slow-crawl... [8 June 2001, p.74]
  4. Blender
    80
    Subduing the bright tinge of her country-flavored roots rock, Essence's acoustic musings mix Delta blues with Nick Drake-style nocturnal intimacy, while Williams's voice limits itself to a hushed drawl. [Jun/Jul 2001, p.102]
  5. By leaving her images blurry and her singing uncomplicated, Williams has found a way to capture the sound she hears in her head and obsesses over the recording process to find.
  6. Spin
    80
    As halting, spare, and downbeat as its predecessor was giddy, verbose, and, okay, downbeat. [Jul 2001, p.125]
  7. Essence sounds full and rich even in its quietest moments, and her sweet-and-sour voice blends with the arrangements with subtle perfection.
  8. Essence finds Williams returning to the willful intimacy of her earliest records. Laid-back, rock-ish and small in scale, Essence never achieves grandeur but won't particularly alienate the fan for whom her wonders small and large are equally magical.
  9. Subtlety is one thing, but at times Williams makes the Cowboy Junkies seem downright rambunctious.
  10. Williams sounds withdrawn and mysterious, awash in feelings that may be too personal to share this time out.
  11. This mainstream update to the unvarnished directness of Sweet Old World starts slow and flirts with blandness but sparks to life about halfway through.
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 15 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 10
  2. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. AlbertoN
    Jan 6, 2008
    9
    strong and heartreaking: this record literally moved me to tears. Stillo does.
  2. Russ
    Aug 14, 2007
    10
    Gotta admit that when I first heard this album I thought it was just ok. But over the years I've found myself returning to it for Gotta admit that when I first heard this album I thought it was just ok. But over the years I've found myself returning to it for repeated listens. Best played when feeling mellow on those quiet introspective moments. Definitely not a party album! These songs just have so much feeling that you can't help but be captured by them. now one of my alltime favorites. To hear these songs with more of a hard-edge, get Live At the Fillmore. Full Review »
  3. BrianM
    Mar 2, 2006
    4
    A gut wrenching torturous record that will make many wonder why music is in their lives at all. For the liife of me, I can't figure out A gut wrenching torturous record that will make many wonder why music is in their lives at all. For the liife of me, I can't figure out why this music is in anyones life. One thing is clear, this music will encourage individuals to obstain from listening to music for long periods of time. Fundamentally, this is a waste of music from an otherwise gifted singer songwriter. Full Review »