Holly Williams: The Highway review

“Why you drinking like the night is young?” That’s the first line we hear from Williams on her third album. Holly may not be mainstream country, but there is no denying the country inflections that we hear in her writing. The album is full of incredibly honest and personal songs about her family, her husband, her friends and her love of the road. The songs sound intrinsically familiar, perhaps it is Williams strong yet raw vocal, or timeless lyrics, or simple instrumentation and production whose only purpose is to enhance the songs, but whatever it is, this is Holly Williams best album so far.

This album is less commercial than its predecessor Here With Me, and there is no mention of her famous lineage. The family she sings of are on her mothers side, it makes it seem all the more personal, as we are hearing of them for the first time, not stories of the Hank Williams we already know. This is Holly Williams, and she is her own artist.

There are three tracks in particular that are truly spectacular, and I’m sure will become fan favourites amongst her dedicated group of followers: ‘Drinkin,” ‘The Highway’ and ‘Giving Up.’ ‘Drinkin” is lyrically very sparse, only a handful of sentences make up the entire song, but it is possibly one of the most effective of her songs. Every single word is purposeful and full of passion.

‘The Highway’ is Holly’s version of ‘On The Road Again.’ The traditional country sentiment of the love of the road, coupled with her bluesy vocals belting out:
“Baby will you roll with me, roll with me
Head down to New Orleans”
It immediately sounds like a country classic.

‘Giving Up’ is almost painful to listen to. The words used are harsh, almost brutal: ‘The doctor said you’ll die if you have another drink,’ but Holly imparts so much passion through her performance, it softens the blow a little. The track is heartbreaking; it is Holly’s grief in song form, and adds a depth and darkness to the album as a whole.

This album isn’t going to hit the top of the charts. But it is certainly not going to gather dust either. The album is powerful, and the listener is overly aware of the emotions that the artist projects. The Highway is a solid release from Williams as she continues to establish herself as a unique artist.

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