Holly Williams is the epitome of country royalty. Her grandfather Hank established the family name with classic songs like “Hey Good Lookin,’” and her father Hank Jr. left his mark on country music forever with the help of a devilish, bad boy image, and undeniable outlaw spirit. With the recent release of her sophomore album, Here with Me, singer/songwriter Holly Williams proves she’s worthy of her family’s notoriety. Not only is Here with Me packed full of potential singles, but it’s authentic, believable, and flawless. The music on Here showcases the full scope of Holly’s talent—both as a singer and a songwriter—as she belts out songs about “Mama” to honky tonkin’ boot stompers like the infectious, “A Love I Think Will Last.” Most impressively, there’s a commanding authority in her storytelling, and life in her lyrics that stretches far beyond her 28 years.
There isn’t a song on Here with Me that doesn’t deserve a moment in the spotlight, but the record shines brightest when Williams sings of heartbreak and hardships. Bittersweet undertones come through on tracks like, “He’s Makin’ a Fool Out of You,” “Three Days in Bed,” and “Alone.” The rawness that resonates in her vocals conveys an honesty that’s been sadly absent from the sugary country-pop of late, and the appropriate simplicity in her lyrics make the whole thing seem effortless. Other standouts on Here include, “Keep the Change,” and “Without Jesus (Here With Me),” from which the record’s title was spawned.
Here is the perfect combination of raw emotion, illustrative lyrics, and beautifully composed melodies, creating one of the best female vocal performances country music has heard in years. Where other artists prove to be predictable, Williams keeps listeners entertained, cranking out song after song of quality country with a contemporary edge and loads of credibility.
Here with Me would be best served on a warm summer night, under the light of a full moon, with a side of red wine. It’s a record you can laugh with, cry to, and even learn a few life lessons from along the way. Here with Me should fit nicely into a library filled with soulful singer/songwriters or country sweethearts like Jennifer Nettles, Emily West, or Katie Armiger. Whether or not you’re a country fan, however, Holly Williams and her latest release are definitely worth investigating. You may just fall in love.