Is there anything Hayley Williams can’t do? Whether she’s too busy being the frontwoman of Paramore, creating awesomely epic hair dye colors for her own company, Good Dye Young, or now releasing her own music and embarking on somewhat of a solo career, I suggest that Williams is somewhat of a superhuman.
After forming Paramore in 2004, Williams threw herself into the unapologetic pop-punk scene. Some of the most defining songs of the decade include “Misery Business” or “Ain’t It Fun” — songs that I would argue feel really good to scream to. I find myself having Paramore as a go-to artist when I want to play music to feel to or just let fill the room.
When I heard that Williams was releasing solo music in the new year, I was ecstatic. Not only is she a talented musician, but she's a caring, compassionate person. In lieu of not trying to sound like I’ve ever had the honor of sitting down with her to prove it, let me offer you some evidence.
Since the beginning of her band, Williams has been an open advocate for mental health awareness. She’s one of the loudest spokespeople for the charity To Write Love on Her Arms, which works in support of those struggling with addiction, self-harm and much more. For nearly a month in 2016, Williams donated portions of money from her hair dye company to an array of different charities that were important to her. And on a more personal note, she’s sort of a vocal god and has no problem talking about all of the hard stuff musicians can often shy away from. She’s an icon.
Although Williams shut down rumors of her solo career in 2009 after doing a song for “Jennifer’s Body,” 2020 seems to deal her a different deck of cards. Having turned 31 on Dec. 31, Williams decided to give a gift to the world and announce a solo record. “Petals for Armor” is set to bless us all on May 7.
Williams brought Paramore guitarist Taylor York on board to work with on the record. So, for those worried that Williams flying solo signals bad blood between the band, it’s been assured that that’s not the case. You can rest easy.
In January, Williams dropped “Simmer” and “Leave it Alone” as debut tracks from the record. To create more chaos, she recently dropped “Petals for Armor 1,” a five-song collection from the anticipated piece.
“Simmer” lures listeners in right away with a cool, techno sound that plays repetitive background noise. Most of her music has a way about it that leans you into it and then usually takes advantage of your closeness and blows up in your face. “Simmer,” though, does a bit more creeping; it’s her voice that does the teasing, adding anticipation onto every lyric.
“Leave it Alone” sounds like a page right from her journal. It’s raw and honest, something that I think most fans of Williams are drawn to. For me, I admire her ability to be so gut wrenchingly honest, even when it's something you don't really want to hear.
With lyrics like “Now that I finally want to live/The ones that love are dying,” and, “Truth is a killer/But, I can’t leave it alone,” she tells those listening that while it pains her to face herself, she can’t turn away. She’s no longer running from her those things and thoughts that scare her.
“Creeping” seems to be a bit of a darker song. While the deeper meaning is always up for debate, I feel as though Williams is taking this whole collection as a stand against the dark clouds that carried over her for a very long time.
Now, as a solo artist, Williams is establishing herself as someone who doesn’t bother with things that clearly try to hold her back. She’s more than her worst thought, and she knows it.
The collection picks up the pace with songs like “Cinnamon” and “Sudden Desire.”
“Sudden Desire” is the track for Paramore fans. What starts off as a mellow guitar riff picks up quickly, thanks to Williams' ability to take control of a song vocally. There’s a quick beat that begins and immediately it’s 2006 and you’re in a mosh pit with your closest allies as Williams gives you the all-clear to go crazy.
Even “Cinnamon” is a testimony to time and the comfort of a familiarity. Williams described this track as an ode to her home and occasionally, her dog, who gets a mention. The music video follows Williams through a strange house.
It’s clear that Williams is telling all those who have been wondering where she's been that she’s doing great. “I’m not lonely/I am free,” she sings, and we are so glad.
While the 2010s might have been a tumultuous decade for Williams, with band members coming and going, a marriage ending in divorce and her own battles with depression, which she’s opened up about in recent interviews, it’s clear the singer has come out on top, and rightfully so.
If my high talk of Williams doesn’t completely sell you on her mastermind abilities, please open up your favorite music streaming service and let the music do the convincing.