Thursday, March 11, 2021

Hayley Williams’ talent has blossomed again

Hayley Williams will always be most well-known as the front woman of pop punk group ‘Paramore’. A band that changed what it meant to be a woman in this genre and the industry forever. Though we have not had new music from Paramore since 2017, Hayley Williams has not left fans disappointed. After releasing her first solo album ‘Petals For Armour’ in May 2020, this is a swift turnaround that came as a surprise when it was announced only hours before it’s release. 

While not being able to play shows or follow their normal schedules, we have seen many artists release more spontaneous music than they had ever done before, and ‘Flowers for Vases/Descansos’ is proof that this new spontaneity and freedom artists, like Hayley Williams, have found has enabled them to create music with more depth and range than ever before. This album is worlds away from the synth pop sound and colourful world of Paramore’s ‘After Laughter’ which uses confident and bright music to disguise it’s downcast lyrics and stories. Now Williams has nothing to hide. 

Whilst Petals For Armour had upbeat songs like ‘Sugar on the Rim’ and ‘Dead Horse’, Flowers for Vases has grown from the acoustic and stripped back sound that songs like ‘Simmer’ planted the seeds for. Williams’ vocals and lyrical talent shine through on every song and, as the solo writer of the entire album, it allows us to see inside the mind of an artist who is using her music as a powerful outlet for the experiences she has gone through, especially in recent years. Any fan of Hayley’s will know about her divorce from New Found Glory frontman, Chad Gilbert and her personal struggles with depression. Though Petals for Armour touched upon the emotional and mental struggles of the past few years of her life, her latest work gives us a deeper insight into this - somehow even more honest and vulnerable than ever before. 

The album is one full of many metaphors and prides itself in its storytelling and its lyrics. 

‘My Limb’ was the first song to be heard from the album after Hayley drove to a fan’s house and posted a CD with this song on it through their door. The song is haunting and the repetition and build of the chorus feels almost like a trance. Through its lyrics, Hayley compares trying to cut someone out of her life to cutting away part of her own body. Whilst ‘Trigger’ describes the concept of being stuck in a relationship or looking past red flags as someone holding a gun to her. Throughout every song, Williams spins her past shortcomings into expressive metaphors and almost nostalgic melodies that make the listener feel emotional, but grateful for the vulnerability of every word. 

Hayley’s talent has only grown across the years and her music continues to connect deeply with listeners whether they are new fans or long-time Paramore lovers.  Overall, this is an album that feels exposed and unguarded whilst also feeling comforting and, when placed alongside her past works, it reinforces a fact many of us have known for years:  there is nothing Hayley Williams cannot do.

Charlotte Hirons

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