Holly Williams has wrassled all kinds of mainstream Nashville fringe: hippie country, postmodern country, even “kinda sorta” country. But all those records from the Nordic blonde seemed somehow composed, structured for something slightly at odds with the singer/songwriter’s essence. After a pair of major label albums, Hank Williams’ (grand)daughter decided to take matters into her own hands.
The Highway is singer/songwriter Holly Williams' first recording in over four years. It is also her first self-released offering on her and husband/guitarist Chris Coleman's label, Georgiana Records. Working with Grammy-winning producer Charlie Peacock (Civil Wars), Williams wrote or co-wrote everything here. She hasn't made any remarkable stylistic changes; her songs are still rooted deeply in Americana and country rock, and her poignancy as a songwriter is sharp as ever -- check "Gone Away from Me," with Jackson Browne on backing vocals.
Holly WilliamsThe Highway(Georgiana)Rating: 3 stars (out of 5) Despite its appearance in every album or show review, the fact that Holly is the granddaughter of Hank and the daughter of Hank Jr. hasn’t exactly made this Williams offspring a country star. After two well-reviewed but commercially disappointing attempts for major labels, she decamps four years later to her self-owned and operated indie imprint.
It’s a fact noted in every feature about her that Holly Williams is country music royalty, as the granddaughter of Hank Williams and the daughter of Hank Jr. True as that may be, it’s never actually been all that obvious in her own music, and it certainly hasn’t made her a big conventional success. Williams’s own music is more in the area of sophisticated adult-contemporary pop with occasional country flourishes.
The daughter of Hank Williams Jr., and thus the granddaughter of Hank Sr., Holly Williams lives in the shadow of a powerful legacy. Never shying away from that fact, the Nashville singer makes music to fit her own existence, and her third LP The Highway contains some of Williams' most potent songwriting. Using mostly acoustic settings, producer Charlie Peacock (the Civil Wars) gives her songs an airy feeling that she's never had before, allowing stories of simpler times to speak with stronger conviction.
Bilal ‘A LOVE SURREAL’ Now that R&B is rediscovering its experimental fringe, with songwriters like Frank Ocean, Miguel and the Weeknd, the time may be opportune for Bilal, a songwriter from Philadelphia who has been on that fringe since the neosoul boom of the 1990s, when he began extrapolating from Stevie Wonder and Prince. His voice needs no studio aid; it’s a full-fledged soul baritone extending toward a supple falsetto. “A Love Surreal” (eOne) is a cycle of slow-burning songs about love — from infatuation and romance through estrangement, loneliness and renewal, from seduction and longing to philosophical serenity.