‘Late Nights And Heartbreak’ Is One Of 2016’s Most Surprising Albums

Courtesy: Record Kicks

Courtesy: Record Kicks

Hannah Williams is one of the music industry’s most well-kept secrets.  The UK-based singer first made a name for herself in 2012 with her debut album Hill of Feathers.  That album’s lead single ‘Work It Out’ earned her fame around the world.  Its companion video has more than one million views.  Four years and thousands of tour miles later—with a number of sold out shows along the way—the young soul powerhouse has released her follow-up to Hill of Feathers in the form of her sophomore album Late Nights and Heartbreak.  While her debut album set her on her path to fame, this latest offering could very well be the record that makes her a mainstream hit.  One song supporting that statement is the socio-politically charged ‘Ain’t Enough.’  It will be discussed shortly.  ‘Woman Got Soul’ is another song that shows the strengths of Late Nights and Heartbreak.  It will be discussed later.  Williams’ cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed and Confused’ is one more song showing the strengths of this album, and is hardly the last example of those strengths, too.  In fact, every one of the songs included in this album could be cited in exhibiting what makes this record stand so proud.  All things considered, Late Nights and Heartbreak proves to be one of this year’s top new independent albums if not one of the year’s top new albums overall.

Hannah Williams’ sophomore album Late Nights and Heartbreak is one of this year’s top new independent albums and potentially one of the year’s top new albums overall.  That is exhibited throughout the album’s 13-song body crafted by Williams and her new backing band, The Affirmations.  One of the songs that best serves to show the album’s strengths is ‘Ain’t Enough.’  In terms of its musical arrangement, it echoes the arrangement presented in Marvin Gaye’s hit song ‘What’s Going On?’ but does so without merely replicating that arrangement.  Adam Holgate’s guitar licks and Jai Widdowson-Jones’ infectious beats join with the group’s horn section—Nicholas Malcom (trumpet), Liam Treasure (trombone) and John Pratt (baritone saxophone)—to make a rich sound that echoes Gaye’s timeless work but still maintains its own identity separate from that of Gaye’s song.  What’s even more amazing here is the fact that the group’s presentation feels so effortless.  There are a lot of acts out there who try way too hard to resurrect the sound of a certain era only to end up failing miserably in their efforts.  The Affirmations make it clear that it is not one of those acts in this composition.  Instead it shows itself to be an act that has clearly spent a long time perfecting its collective abilities.  The end result here, again, is a work that sounds wholly genuine.  In turn it turns out to be just one of so many standout arrangements presented in this album.  The song’s musical arrangement is clearly important to displaying the album’s overall strengths.  It is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s socio-politically charged lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical arrangement.

The musical arrangement presented in ‘Ain’t Enough’ is clearly an important part of the song’s presentation.  It is one clear example of what makes LNAH such a strong new effort from Hannah Williams.  It is just one part of what makes the song (and album) stand out.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note here as its musical arrangement.  Williams takes on the country’s political leaders in the song’s lyrics, her vocal delivery sounding like a hybrid of Nina Simone and Janis Joplin, if one can even begin to fathom such a combination.  She sings here, “It’s hard to believe/All these things that you say/When so much of what we have is being taken away/This ain’t a nightmare/No, this is real life/Wake up to all these problems/Cause they ain’t solved overnight…If this is you doin’ all you can/It definitely ain’t enough.”  She goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “Before you accuse/Take a look at yourself/Is peace what you want/Or is it more about wealth/Lining your pockets/Pulling wool over our eyes/Getting rich from selling weapons/Watching innocents die.”  There’s no doubt from here about the song’s topic.  Williams makes no bones about it here.  She is not happy about what the world’s political leaders are doing at the expense of the people. Yet she’s not screaming about it unlike so many acts out there today.  But it is definitely a concerted statement.  Again, it is a statement that would fit just as well with the protest songs of the 60s and 70s as it does with today’s socio-politically minded songs.  One could even argue that it outshines its modern counterparts.  When this is taken into consideration alongside the song’s infectious musical arrangement, the whole of the song shows clearly why it is one of the album’s strongest songs. In turn it shows in part why LNAH is a solid record in whole.  It is just one of the songs that supports the latter statement.  ‘Woman Got Soul’ is another example of what makes this record stand out.

‘Ain’t Enough’ is one of the strongest offerings from Hannah Williams’ new album Late Nights and Heartbreak.  It shows in part through its infectious musical arrangement an influence from the likes of Marvin Gaye, yet still maintains its own identity.  Even better is that The affirmations make what they do seem effortless and genuine.  When the song’s socio-politically minded lyrics are set against that arrangement, the end result is a song that will move people and transport them back to another era.  While both elements work to make this song clearly stand out, the song in whole is just one of this record’s most notable works.  ‘Woman Got Soul’ is another of the album’s most notable works.  Its musical arrangement is one reason that it stands out so clearly.  The song’s arrangement is led by Jones’ and keyboardist James Graham.  The pair forms the foundation for the song’s arrangement while Adam Holgate adds his own extra spice to the song through his guitar riff.  The trio’s arrangement is a mid-tempo groove that while laid back, is still infectious in its own right.  That’s especially the case as the group’s horns come in and help the song progress.  The arrangement presented in this song stands out clearly from that of ‘Ain’t Enough.’  It does a lot to make the song stand separate from LNAH’s other songs and still entertain audiences by itself.  As important as it is to the song’s presentation, it is just one part of what makes the song stand out.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note here as its musical arrangement.

The musical arrangement presented in ‘Woman Got Soul’ is key to the song because it clearly establishes the song’s identity separate from the other arrangements presented throughout LNAH.  It is a laid back piece that is still just as infectious as the album’s other arrangements.  While it is obviously an important piece of the song’s overall presentation, it is only one part of what makes the song such a strong effort.  The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note as its musical arrangement.  The song’s lyrical theme seems rather to the point as Williams sings, “There’s a lot in this world/That makes you do wrong/You see you got to think hard/If you wanna stay strong/There’s a lot of people/That can’t resist/Screwing up their whole lives…I was taught how to love, not how to fight/We don’t want no trouble/We don’t need no more/You’re so amusing/At a dance floor/All my women/Sing it with me/Show me how you do/Woman got soul.  The song evolves into a jam session of sorts from here with Williams and company eventually singing over and over again, “woman got soul/We don’t need no more.”  It has to be inferred through such simplistic lyrical content, that the song is one of female empowerment.  It seems like Williams and company are telling women to be proud of who they are and just get out there, not be one of those people who love drama and ruining their own lives.  If that is indeed the case, then in all honesty, it’s even better than Beyonce’s female empowerment anthem ‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)’ and the Destiny’s Child song ‘Independent Women.’  That’s a bold statement, and audiences will agree with it after comparing all three works.  That is especially the case when the song’s musical arrangement is set alongside its lyrical content.  Even as strong as it is in its combined musical and lyrical simplicity it is just one more of the songs included in this album that shows the album’s strengths.  Williams’ cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed and Confused is another one of this record’s strongest efforts.

‘Aint’ Enough’ and ‘Woman Got Soul’ are both clear examples of what makes LNAH a solid new effort from Hannah Williams.  That is evidenced through the songs’ musical arrangements and their lyrical content, both of which stand firmly on their own merits.  They create identities for the songs that are separate from both one another and from the rest of the album’s songs.  While both songs stand clearly as two examples of what makes this record such a strong effort, they are just two of the album’s high points.  Williams’ take on Led Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed and Confused’ is yet another of the album’s many high points.  In regards to the song’s musical arrangement, the song maintains the original composition’s sound.  However, it also gives the song a little bit of a kick so to speak.  Rather than being the slower, more bluesy piece that Led Zeppelin crafted so long ago, this take on the song is more of an up-tempo piece.  The funk elements incorporated into this take from Williams and her fellow musicians in The Affirmations adds even more enjoyment to the song.  Even with the song’s original arrangement being stepped up here, the fact that it still stayed true to its source material still makes it a completely enjoyable work.  It makes the group’s take on the classic a work that Zeppelin’s fans, Williams’ fans and rock fans alike will appreciate.

The lyrics presented here have been slightly altered from the original, since they are performed from a female vantage point.  That aside, they are still largely the same as the original save for that one alteration.  Keeping that in mind, Williams’ delivery packs a punch that hits just as hard as that of Robert Plant.  Even more impressive is that it does this all while, again, giving the song its own identity even in that right.  Considering the group’s ability to balance the original composition with its own take on the song, it shows once more why this song is another of the album’s strongest points.  When it is joined with ‘Ain’t Enough,’ ‘Woman Got Soul,’ and the rest of the album’s songs, it becomes wholly clear why this latest effort from Hannah Williams is one of this year’s biggest surprises.  They reveal the album to be one of the year’s top new independent albums and potentially even one of the year’s top new albums overall.

Hannah Williams’ sophomore album Late Nights and Heartbreak is one of this year’s biggest surprises.  The 13-song album proves through its diverse musical arrangements and its equally varied lyrical topics to be one of the year’s top new independent albums and potentially even one of the year’s top new albums overall.  ‘Ain’t Enough,’ ‘Woman Got Soul’ and the group’s take on Led Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed And Confused’ each fully support those statements.  They are just some of the songs included in this record that do so, too.  ‘In Your Arms’ with its bittersweet musical arrangement and equally painful lyrical story is yet another example of what makes this record stand out among its competitors.  ‘Callin’ Me Back’ stands out on its own merits, too and adds even more enjoyment to this album.  Much the same can be said of the album’s closer, ‘Your Luck Can Change.’  Between those songs, the pieces more directly noted here, and the album’s other offerings, the whole of this record proves to be a work that is one of this year’s biggest surprises.  It will grip fans of funk, soul, and even R&B across the board with its stunning arrangements and equally strong lyrical content.  All things considered, it proves to be once more, one of the year’s top new independent albums and potentially one of the year’s top new albums overall.  It is available now in stores and online.  More information on Late Nights and Heartbreak is available online now along with all of Hannah Williams’ latest news at:

Website: http://www.hannahsoulwilliams.bandcamp.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pg/hannahwilliamsandtheaffirmations

Twitter: http://twitter.com/hannahfwilliams

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

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