Pop-punk singer Hayley Williams, best known as Paramore’s high energy front woman, gets intimate with her feelings and slows things down with her second solo album.
Williams’s new album ‘Flowers for Vases / descansos’, which was released on Feb. 5, demonstrates her extraordinary talent and ability to bend genres. The album was released almost exactly one year since part one of her previous studio album ‘Petals for Armor’ fans are expectantly thrilled.
Williams was born and raised in Meridian, Mississippi. She moved with her mother to Nashville, Tennessee in her early teens. There, she met her future bandmates and established Paramore in 2004.
Paramore is still best known for their hits like “Misery Business”, “The Only Exception” and “Still Into You”. The band’s self-titled record, released in 2013, was their first album to make it to the number one position on the US Billboard 200. They also got their first Grammy for “Best Rock Song”, thanks to chart-topping hit “Ain’t It Fun”.
Beyond Paramore, Williams was also known for her feature in songs like “Airplanes” by rapper B.o.B. and “Stay the Night” by EDM producer Zedd. With these singles, Williams showed the world that she will not be held down by one genre.
Fans and alternative music lovers alike finally got a taste of Williams’s abilities with the release of her first solo album, ‘Petals for Armor’, last February. The album garnered a lot of positive reactions, with listeners loving the emotional lyrics in songs like “Simmer”.
‘Flowers for Vases / descansos’ perhaps gives her audience an even deeper emotional connection to her verses. Williams said as much in the lead up to the album’s release.
“This isn’t really a follow-up to ‘Petals for Armor’. If anything, it’s a prequel, or some sort of detour between parts 1 and 2 of ‘Petals’,” Williams wrote in an Instagram story.
There is no doubt that there are certain aspects that make ‘Flowers’ different from ‘Petals’. For one, ‘Petals for Armor’ was recorded and produced in a studio pre-COVID-19. ‘Flowers for Vases’, on the other hand, was Williams’s own version of Taylor Swift’s 2020 album ‘Folklore’, with every instrument on the tracks played by Williams herself, with everything recorded in her own home.
Williams admits that the pandemic forced her to focus on her inner emotions, which gave her the opportunity to write and record this record.
“I may never have been offered such a kindness [or] an opportunity to tend to the seeds I’d planted, to harvest, and to weed or prune what is no longer alive, in order to make space for the living,” Williams reported to Apple Music’s Zane Lowe.
Williams also said she took inspiration from Clarissa Pinkola Estés’s 1992 book ‘Women Who Run With the Wolves’ by channeling its overall message for women’s instinctual power. Williams links stories from Estés books into her songs, as well as writing on some of her own personal experiences. In her track “Inordinary”, she gently sings about how her move from Meridian to Nashville empowered her in lines like, “Life began in seventh grade/When me and momma got away.”
Similar to ‘Petals’, this album also reflects on feelings of heartbreak and how to recover from its sting. In “Trigger”, while singing about a failed relationship, Williams sings a feeling familiar to anyone who’s dealt with heartbreak: “’Cause I got the trigger, but you hold the gun./How come you never put the safety on?”
Beyond these messages of heartbreak, she also finds self-love, acceptance, accountability and healing in songs “Find Me Here” and “No Use I Just Do”. “No Use I Just Do” in particular does a great job talking on love with lines like, “Nobody wants to be alone/But that is not why I want you/[…]It’s no use, I just love you.”
With its emotionally raw yet relaxing songs, ‘Flowers for Vases / descansos’ will shape the music industry in the post-pandemic future. Williams continues to bend genre at her will to create exactly what her songs need, easily transitioning from folk music to electric guitar-based ballads. Whether you are a long time Paramore fan, music lover, or just in need for a good cry, Williams’s new melodic adventure deserves a listen.