The last name “Williams” signifies a legendary family lineage in country music. Sam Williams, the youngest grandson of country icon Hank Williams and son of outlaw singer Hank Williams Jr,. is in pursuit of solidifying his own sound and music career by singing words of brutal honesty and introspection.
“I grew up a lot more normal than what people would think,” he tells us. Williams attended his father’s concerts, but he was never on the road for months at a time. Music influenced him just like it would any other young kid. He listened to the radio, discovered songs on YouTube, and later on found his own niche interests in specific genres. He’s found inspiration in a plethora of artists like Dolly Parton, Miley Cyrus, Frank Ocean, and Hozier, as well as country singer-songwriters Lori McKenna, Tyler Childers, and Mary Gauthier.
He studied entertainment industry at Belmont University in Nashville for a few years before becoming a musician full time; he was secretive about his affinity for music and stuck to writing poems in his free time. To his credit, coming from a family of famous country musicians, there’s a lot of pressure that is bound to come from the general public, plus unshakeable comparisons. “I think that I always knew in the back of my mind, but I tried to pretend that it wasn’t what I was born to do,” he explains. “People really enjoyed what I had to say and I had a unique perspective. I think that was the point that I fully committed to it.”
Some of his most recent songs include “The World: Alone;” one of William’s favorite songs he’s ever written. The song was going to be featured on his upcoming album regardless, but when they were choosing which songs to push as singles, his older sister Katie passed away suddenly. “It kind of threw a wrench into everything for me musically,” he states. “I had written it a year before, but it definitely had a connection to Katie and I guess it was written in a clairvoyance.” The lyrics describe a love lost and wishing to show the world to the one you now mourn. It is full of articulate imagery and mentions European cities like Barcelona, Rome, and Amsterdam. One day when Williams was thinking about the lyrics, he realized he could read them in a more hopeful way. “Though it’s tragic, she can see the world. And she can see everything that I’m doing and I’m gonna do.”
Photo credit: Alexa King
Another track, “Can’t Fool Your Own Blood,” is about family strife, lying, and the impact it has on relationships. He recalls watching an interview with another artist who talked about the moment they were first caught lying by their dad and how serious of a moment that was. “You can lie to a liar, go ahead and flame the fire,” is a striking line in the chorus of the track. “That means you’re not doing anything to help by lying or hiding things from the ones you love. And it’s also about not being able to fool yourself,” Williams tells us. The instrumental is haunting, his vocals are intense, and the lyrics paint a broken family portrait.
He also recently signed with Universal Music Group Nashville. He laughed through his words when he explained that it’s, “Kinda really insane.” Getting signed to a major label was not part of his plan; he thought that he was going to always be an independent artist. UMG was a turning point. He showed the label his record and they showed much support in return. “They have just been such huge believers in it,” he says. “I think it’s gonna be really, really awesome, but I was completely caught off guard.”
His debut album Glasshouse Children is set to be released on August 20th. Writing the project and putting it together was liberating for Williams. “I think as you progress through the first half of this record to the second side, it just touches a lot of different bases. I think it tells a really good story; there’s a beautiful fragility to it,” he exclaims poetically. “I’m doing my own thing and not trying to imitate or be like anyone else.”
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