A true singer songwriter, Zane Williams is an artist who infuses his music with honesty and passion. Williams is set to release his newest album, Texas Like That, on April 14th. The album's ten songs, all self-penned, range from heartfelt ballads to honky tonk ready tracks. Williams was gracious enough to take the time to talk about the album, including his writing process and the story behind "Jayton and Jill."
Texas Like That is your fifth album. What, if anything, did you do differently with this one than the previous?
Well, it is a lot of the same. I wrote all of the songs and used the same producer as the last record, Overnight Success. We did record this one all in Texas, which was the first time I did that. Other than that I think the songs are a little different--there’s more of an emphasis on the music. I have been playing with a full band for a couple years now and when I was writing I was hearing “band stuff” in my head, which helped make this record a bit more musically intense than the last record.
When we last spoke you said that “everything comes from the brain of Zane Williams.” So is your brain constantly working on songs or do you carve out days to write?
I write little by little. I can’t turn it off and compartmentalize it. I have never been good at writing a song at like 10am on a Tuesday morning. More often than not, I get inspired on long drives or when I am mowing the yard or doing dishes; some task like that where your hands are busy and your mind can wander. I’m pretty much always working on new material.
Texas Like That has great stories and melodies, but also a few surprises, especially in songs like “Throwback” and “Just Getting Started” which have a real contemporary feel.
They’ve definitely got that kind of rhythm of the words, almost rap-ish sound. I don’t necessarily try to write in that style, but I don’t not try to write that style. I just write whatever pops into my head. I have learned that my voice is inherently country sounding and that if I have mandolin, fiddle and dobro, all of which I love, with my voice, it always sounds pretty country.
Your current single “Jayton and Jill” is a true traditional country song. What’s the story behind that song?
I do this thing called Music Mondays where I take ten random words from people’s suggestions on social media and put them in song. “Jayton and Jill” was one of those ten random words songs and I wrote it at my house in about three hours. The original song [you can watch here on You Tube] initially included their names as well as some words like flamboyant, bearcats and sasapirilla that I removed when I went back to write the song for the album.
We just finalized the video for the song which was shot in Nashville. It has a little bit of my performance in it, but it mostly follows the story of the song. I thought the actors in it did a really good job.
What is the significance of naming the album Texas Like That?
Well, originally I thought of calling it Just Getting Started because I feel like that is where my career is at and I wanted to let people know that. I still see my career as being young and think that my best music is in front of me. But after thinking about it, I felt like Texas Like That was more of an iconic, memorable statement. I always thought of myself as a country artist, not necessarily a Texas country artist, until I moved down here. My music falls under Texas country because although Texas music has all different styles, the common thread is authenticity. There is a love of the singer songwriter here and I think people who write their own songs come across as more authentic as far as music is concerned. I think that’s my strong suit, or I hope it is; my music is real, honest and down to earth, which reflects Texas. Even though I still think people all over the country would enjoy my music, I’m comfortable being known as a Texas guy.
You are always playing live shows and recently did The Rock & Soul Roadshow with Mike Ryan and Sam Riggs. How was it being out with those guys and how was the fan reaction to the new songs?
Those are fun shows, but they’re also crazy because it’s three bands and their gear! We each did a forty five minute set then we all jammed together on a couple of tunes. We did a couple of new things every night, and people loved it. Their reaction was really good especially to the rockin’ and fun songs like “Just Getting Started,” which went over real well.
It was great getting to know Mike, Sam and their bands better and seeing how they run things. It was also great getting to hang out with them because normally we criss-cross places and are never together at the same time. I like and respect those guys. They’re both headed places, so it will be fun to watch them blow up.
Finally, if you had to describe the album in five words or less what would you say?
I would call it Authentic Singer-Songwriter Country
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