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Here With Me

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Editors’ Notes

On 2009’s Here With Me, Holly Williams invites comparisons with Rosanne Cash’s classic ‘80s albums. In both cases, the female heirs of country music dynasties sought to work through painful family issues while fully defining themselves as artists. Here With Me testifies to the singer’s strength and confidence, though many of its songs carry a tinge of torment. Williams has cultivated a voice full of aching resonance, technically polished yet rough in the right places. She fills everything from her own “Mama” (an honest look at divorce and forgiveness) to Neil Young’s plaintive “Birds” with a survivor’s sense of bruised resiliency. She proves herself a songwriter of unusual subtlety on the emotionally ambiguous “Three Days In Bed” and pulls off a genuinely moving confession of faith in “Without Jesus Here With Me.” Justin Niebank’s stark production allows Williams to open up in unguarded fashion. (It’s hard to talk about Here With Me without mentioning that Holly’s grandfather was Hank Williams. That said, she earns every bit of what she achieves on this outstanding release.)

Customer Reviews

Hank Sr.’s granddaughter cuts a superb country and pop album

Williams’ gold-plated lineage (her father is Hank Williams Jr., her grandfather was Hank Williams) is in many ways misleading rather than informative. Though she’s the product of two generations of country music royalty (and a broken home), her songs are modern in style and her lyrics are mostly untouched by self-destructive rebelliousness. Unless, that is, you count her charting a mainstream musical course as rebelling against the family business. The Williams’ troubles passed from Sr. to Jr. to III, but in changing gender (and mother, Hank III is a half-brother), the darkest demons seem to have lost their grip on the steering wheel. That’s the long-way around to saying that you shouldn’t expect a female version of the rowdy Williams sound or style here, though you will get a helping of the family’s breed of talent. Williams’ 2004 major label debut, The Ones We Never Knew, was a moody singer-songwriter album that lived in the contemporary folk and adult pop world of Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Jewel. After the album stiffed (and its single “Sometimes” failed to crack the charts), Williams was dropped by her label. A car accident and several years further along, she’s back with a new album for Mercury Nashville that has a stronger country flavor. The opening “He’s Making a Fool Out of You” is an original slow waltz that would be a good fit for Lee Ann Womack, and Williams’ duet with Chris Janson, the sweetly themed “A Love I Think Will Last,” is an upbeat, two-step shuffle. Williams’ hasn’t abandoned the sophisticated contemporary pop sounds of her debut, she’s simply mixed things up a bit. There are songs of coping, faith, troubled relationships, emotional growth and unbridled love. There are biographical lyrics about Williams’ mother and father, and a quick name-check of her grandfather, but they’re more like waypoints than destinations. Williams’ voice fits smoothly into both the highly produced tracks and the twangier arrangements. She’s a powerful singer, emoting forcefully when unburdening herself and choking up when delivering the romantic doormat’s heartbreaking simile “like a leaf in mid-October I still change for you.” She favors Rosanne Cash a bit on the country tracks. The album closes with a s cover of Neil Young’s “Birds,” sung slower and shorn of the backing choir of After the Gold Rush. It’s a nice showcase for the expressiveness of Williams’ voice, and though it’s not as plaintively bereaved as Young’s original, it’s no doubt a showstopper on stage. Those who felt Williams’ debut hewed too much to one tempo or sound will like the breadth in her songwriting and the new opportunities this provides for her stellar voice. This isn’t your father (or grandfather’s) country album. In fact, it’s as much a contemporary pop album as it is modern country. But as on her previous album, Williams shows herself to be a talented artist whose songs are dark but not damaged, and whose music doesn’t stand in anyone’s shadow. Now, Mercury Nashville just needs to figure out whether to break her on country or pop radio. [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

One of the Best

Holly Williams is one the best singer/songwriters out there! Her voice and songs resonate with a depth and beauty that can reach right down into your soul. This album is as rich and sweet as her first one. Great singing, great words and honest and simple melodies!

Family Tradition - Again

Holly Williams follows in the footsteps of her grandfather, Hank Williams, by writing and singing songs that are mature and honest well beyond her years. Excellent work, Mrs. Williams.

Biography

Born: March 12, 1981 in Nashville, TN

Genre: Country

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Most country artists talk about their long journey to Nashville, but Holly Williams was born and raised in country music's capital. Most country artists speak of some music-loving elder who almost made it, but Holly Williams comes from country royalty. Hank Williams was her grandfather, Hank Jr. her dad, and Hank III her half-brother. Despite all this — and a couple songs she wrote at the age of eight — when growing up Holly wasn't interested in music, and dreamed of a career in modeling....
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Here With Me, Holly Williams
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