Holly Williams: Here with Me

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.

Seen Your Video: Hank Williams, Jr., “Red, White, and Pink-Slip Blues”

As someone who once had a significant portion of his junior year of college ruined by a gentleman cranking “A Country Boy Can Survive” at all hours of the day and night, I’ve never been a big fan of Hank Williams, Jr., but when you grow up in the South, you learn to accept Bocephus as part of your life whether you actually like him or not. Plus, over the years, I’ve become a fan of his father (Hank, Sr.) and of his son (Hank III), so I feel like I ought to cut the good ol’ boy a little bit of slack.

Junior’s new album, 127 Rose Avenue, is due for release on June 16th, and although the first single – “Red, White, and Pink-Slip Blues” – is tailor-made for the old-school country audiences, you have to admit that it does indeed speak to the current economic climate, not just of the South but of the entire United States. Of course, given that this comes from a man who turned up at Republican rallies in Virginia Beach, VA, and crooned an excruciating little ditty called “McCain Palin Tradition,” you can imagine that most of the comments over on YouTube for this video involve assurances that the events discussed the song are all the fault of Barack Obama.

Whatever. All I know is that I like the dark twang of this track. Maybe you will, too.

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