Williams is a great artist for the Pause to sign. Last year, the concert staff brought in loads of fantastic artists, but sometimes neglected the diversity that exists in the Midwestern music scene. Williams is someone who will easily appeal to a wide swath of the student body.
Williams plays earnest folk with solid song construction, instrumental prowess and a whole lot of heart. He's a little outside of today's folk scene, bearing more resemblance to Ryan Adam's pop Americana than Devendra Banhart's psychedelic anthems, which gives him a unique voice in a scene that can get a little homogenous at times. Williams' set will appeal to a pretty big segment of the student body: if you're into Nickel Creek, you'll probably like him. If you dug Haley Bonar in the Pause and Martha Berner at Lutefest last year, you'll probably enjoy Williams' honest passion. And if you happily stomped along to one of Jayber Crow's sets on campus, you'll find plenty to enjoy in Williams.
Appetite whetted? Good. Williams is currently on tour in support of Another Sailor's Dream. Another Sailor's Dream, his third solo album (fourth if you count another that he released under a pseudonym) was released earlier this year. Before embarking on his solo career, Williams played in the band Exit.
Leaving a band and striking out on your own is a big transition for any artist. For Williams, the process granted an appealing sense of freedom. "When you're a solo artist, you don't have to run it by anyone. On the same side of that, you pretty much live or die by that," Williams said.
While Williams described himself as missing the collaboration of being in a band, he's not too eager to go back, either. "I don't know - it would have to be a really ideal situation. I don't want to sound like Jeff Tweedy or Ryan Adams who keeps kicking people out of the band," he said.
But that doesn't mean Williams is a loner. During our interview, he touched on the importance of community for musicians. "I think, it pretty much makes all the difference if you can have some sort of & rallying cry with your fellow musicians," he said. Williams also added that having the support of fellow musicians adds to the enjoyment of his job.
The heightened sense of responsibility that comes with being a solo artist also suits Williams, who enjoys being in the studio and arranging tracks. "I really love recording songs and arranging songs. If I had my way, I'd make records all the time," he said.
But don't worry, Williams is still plenty happy to be coming to St. Olaf next week. "I really enjoy the road," he said. And that's a good thing, too. After being on tour most of this month and sporadically in December, Williams will be popping back into the studio and then hitting the road again, including a European tour this spring.
Though Williams will be starting the recording process for the new album in December, he's already got some ground laid. "I would say über-folk is too much, but very roots-folk, kind of jazz," he said on the feel of the new album. Considering the tightness of songwriting and skillful arrangements on Another Sailor's Dream, I think it's safe to say that the new album will probably strike just the right balance between meticulous songwriting and raw passion. I'm looking forward to it.
In addition to his show in the Pause, Williams will be playing a show at the Acadia Café on Nov. 14. You can preview his music on his official myspace at www.myspace.com/haywardwilliams.