New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
Richmond, VA-based Americana-folk/roots-rock singer-songwriter Rob Williams is set to release his third album, An Hour Before Daylight, on October 27, 2017. His sound is rough but warm, full of turns and twists through a soundscape of folk, rootsy rock, Americana twang, and Williams' original touches, unbound by genre.
Williams' stories lead listeners to places that feel familiar and timeless. Places that stretch as high as hope can go ("Icarus Dreamt") or just a whisper away from someone who's spent too many sad nights on that barstool next to yours ("Broken
"). And not just to those places but also to the triumphs and, yes, the failures of people who lived there or were just passing through. Some of them are beyond our reach — the miners who perished underground in "Butte, Montana, 1885," an ancestor from impossibly long ago in "Lucy, You're Lovely," ourselves as children in "Hide And Seek." Yet Williams makes the past a living presence, its lessons undimmed by time.
"This album is much more about history than anything I've ever done," Williams says. "People who love history have that skill of relating the past to the present, whether in how they see the world or how they write about it in music or words. It becomes easier to immerse yourself in a character and become that character in a song."
As he did with his previous album, Southern FM, Williams departed home to record with some musicians that he didn't know. "The Southern FM experience left a strong enough impression on me that I decided to do it again for this record," says Williams. "But I wanted a little more control this time, so I rehearsed in advance with some people, including my sister, and then we went up to Great North Sound Society, this studio in an old house in the foothills of southern Maine."
For eight days, amidst trees and open spaces, they got inside each song, found its heart and brought it to life. Along with the ones triggered by events of the past, Williams presented works that were more candidly autobiographical than anything he'd done previously ("The Old North State") — or sounded like they were ("Don't Want To Love You"). He spun complex narratives ("Rhythm Of The Sunset") and challenged the hypocrisies of our era ("Tired And Poor"). And then he bade farewell with "Goodnight, Illinois," which ends with a return to his prescription for fearlessness when fear seems to be the only option: "The road we walk down is not the only there is to know, so many times I've been told. But if that's wrong, we'll be wrong one more time." Like the previous two records, An Hour Before Daylight offers one carefully chosen cover — in this case, it's a briskly rhythmic rendition of Lucinda Williams' "Blue."
An academic with a doctorate in educational leadership, Williams works to inform and inspire others, whether they're students in a classroom or rapt listeners in a concert venue. In both settings, he works to make a difference, to support teachers and principals who dare to innovate and to encourage audiences to seek truth in the marriage of lyric and melody. "Any sort of creativity, whether it's music or art or writing or anything else, requires failure," Williams points out. "You have to try. You will fail. And that's okay. That's part of the process of creating."
Williams grew up in Richmond, VA. Music
fascinated him from the start, and he grew up listening to the classic artists his older siblings loved -- the Beatles, the Stones, and even John Prine. At the time he started doing original music in local clubs, his taste migrated toward the music of R.E.M.
and The Replacements. For a while he fronted a band called Joe Buck Jr., whose members were a shifting gathering of friends.
Switching primarily to a solo format accelerated his development as a writer and folks like Rhett Miller, Jason Isbell, and Josh Ritter
spoke to the songwriter in him. Backed by Joe Buck Jr. alumni, he released A Place In The Sun in 2013 under his own name. As an experiment, Williams didn't share his new songs until right before each session. "I didn't want anyone to overthink their parts," he explains. "I think it worked out pretty well." In December 2015, he followed with Southern FM, which he recorded in Dallas. IndependentClauses.com called Southern FM "one of the most enjoyable listens of the year."
Williams plans to hit the road in support of An Hour Before Daylight. A tour schedule is included below; more dates will be added.
Rob Williams Tour Schedule:
9/8 - Roanoke, VA / Sweet Donkey Coffee
9/9 - Hillsborough, NC / Mystery Brewing Public House
9/23 - Richmond, VA / The Camel
9/28 - Richmond, VA / Sound of Music
9/30 - Richmond, VA / Crossroads Coffee & Ice Cream
10/21 - Fredericksburg, VA / Legume Kitchen & Bar
11/3 - Short Pump, VA / Rock Bottom
11/8 - Washington, DC / Vinyl Lounge, Gypsy Sally's
11/9 - Columbus, OH / Mudflats
11/10 - Hendersonville, NC / Sanctuary Brewing Co.
11/11 - Fuquay Varina, NC / Aviator
12/16 - Ashland, VA / The Mainline at Ashland Coffee and Tea