It’s easy to admire Hayley Williams as an artist and performer. She’s immensely talented and her vocal is one of the most powerful voices in music. Her shift toward her solo career lately hasn’t been that much of a surprise, and her debut solo album, Petals For Armor is out now.
Williams gets a lot of credit for doing something that’s completely different from her band work in Paramore. Petals for Amor isn’t just slightly different from Paramore, it’s vastly different. There are a lot of solo records that have been released over the years where they’re exactly like the band’s records. This doesn’t approach that. Hayley Williams’ solo record is like a modern music inspired Fiona Apple record with world music rhythms. The melodies are mostly unconventional and there’s a lot of space utilized on the album. Williams also gets a lot of credit for her lyric writing. She’s always had a lot to say and she’s always said it well, this is another level. On songs like “Dead Horse” she really takes the gloves off and gets super personal with her life.
The artistic integrity of the set wins out, but this isn’t really an album for everyone. There’s a lot to digest here. If you were to isolate tracks from the mixes and just play them – even if you just take one thing away – most of this doesn’t sound like an actual song. It’s like somebody’s slam poetry reading with an upright bass and a garbage can providing the only instrumentation. The spirit of the record is amazing, and I’m sure there are people out there who will love this, it’s just not for everyone. It’s also somewhat bizarre that Williams’ voice is literally the most underutilized thing on this album. She’s never belting out anything, there’s a lot of mellow singing and not a lot of intensity in the vocal – the production is doing most of that work here.
You have to give Williams a lot of credit for making the music she wants to make and not just throwing out something similar to Paramore that would be received well and get good numbers. Instead, she puts out something she wants. It’s not for everybody, but Hayley Williams’ solo music is definitely original.