Heartache and soul searching mix with country-pop.
Inevitably, when you can claim your grandfather is regarded as a significant contributor to American songs of the 20th Century, then expectations are going to be high for your debut album. With, ‘Glasshouse Children’ Williams has claimed his right to carve a musical path that may diverge from that of the man who brought us, ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart’ but also maintains an undercurrent of darkness and tragedy that marked the life of his ancestor.
It would be fair to say that the first four tracks on the album feel weighted with the past both stylistically and emotionally. Slow, pain-drenched songs greet us that echo with lap steel, acoustic guitar and yes even the vocals of Dolly Parton on, ‘Happy all the Time’ which happily is not a happy-go-lucky song about smug contentment but rather a lament for the elusiveness of said emotion. Parton’s smooth and in this case unobtrusive vocals give an effective foil for Williams’s more grainy voice.
The title track opens with a lush orchestral sweep whilst the lyrics speak of the burden of the past weighing heavy on the shoulders. ‘Can’t fool your own blood’ is a searing evocation of pain created by parental letdown whilst, ‘Bullet Blues’ gives us a mellow acoustic atmosphere with subtle vocal harmonies.
The rest of the album then shifts into higher octane country-pop mode. It’s radio-friendly with lines like, “I asked her if she loved me, she said 10-4” and the ‘Wild Girl’ who is like, “400 Horses in a Mustang Car“; the rhythm of Willams vocals in this track showing a hip-hop influence. Keith Urban features on ‘Kids’ telling of the plight of young adults with too much time on their hands and probably too much money. The final track, ‘The World: Alone’ sings of the loneliness of world travel minus your partner who you had planned to accompany you.
Williams may yet hit his full stride with his artistic endeavors; he clearly has the talent to emote pain and soul searching as demonstrated by the first four tracks. He has the talent too to produce commercial country-pop that is inoffensive enough but lacks the emotional depth of the earlier tracks. His audience may be wide enough to encompass this palette, or not, only time will tell.