Hayley Williams shines through the quiet moments on her new album

Niamh Quinlan

Hayley Williams latest album, FLOWERS for VASES / descansos, is a dark venture into folk music, led by mainly guitar and piano ballads with hardly a drum throughout.

Recorded entirely at home during the Covid-19 pandemic, Williams wrote all 14 songs entirely by herself, with extremely raw and personal lyrics. The main themes explored in the 42-minute listen are that of heartbreak, misery, melancholia and nostalgia, a lot of which people can relate to feeling during isolation due to the pandemic.

Even the latter name of the album, descansos, gives a taste of the kind of journey you’re about to go through with the album. A Descanso, in English, is a “cross placed at the site of a violent, unexpected death, in memoriam”, according to Wiktionary.

The namesake track, is a musical interlude, back by strings, with drowned-out chatter soon replaced by a haunting melody from Williams.

The haunting element perforates the whole album, both with Williams’s voice and lyrics. In the song Good Grief, she opens, rather shockingly, with:
There’s no such thing as good grief
Haven’t eaten in three weeks
Skin and bones when you’re not near me
I’m all skeleton and melody

Jaw-droppingly vulnerable lyrics are not something Williams has ever shied away from, but that doesn’t take away from the raw edgy element.

A small peak at her Paramore days comes through in the choruses of the last track, Just a Lover, with a deep base, heavy electric guitar and the most drums present in the album.

At some stages, some songs began to sound similar, as Over the Hills opened almost the exact same way Asystole did, although did change pace and direction from the latter sone by the chorus.

And for a soprano with a four-octave range renowned for her hard-hitting high notes, Williams kept her vocals fairly restrained through-out FLOWERS for VASES. Holding back on any belting notes didn’t take away from any aspects of the album.

However, with a vocalist as talented as Williams is, disappointment is expected when she doesn’t showcase all of her talents.

Overall, the album was different and brave. It was paradoxical in that its melody and pace were easy to listen to, but the lyrics bared a heavy burden. Releasing an album with that calibre of heartbreak in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day was also courageous.

And considering she did this all from her Nashville home, it’s safe to say the pandemic didn’t hinder Williams’ musical abilities and her listeners have much to look forward to in the future. Rating: four stars.

Niamh Quinlan

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Note: This article was reuploaded on 24/03/2021 due to a fault with The College View website.