With her much-anticipated debut album Forever Blue due for release next Friday 3rd July, and already the subject of many excellent reviews, A.A. Williams has shared another new track, “Love And Pain”, from the LP. Of the track Williams says: “Love And Pain explores the juxtaposition of positive and negative emotions, specifically the titular feelings that often go hand in hand. The protagonist acknowledges that their ongoing sadness is often of their own creation – they try to accept love from another, but soon come to see that this affection masks more bitter intentions. I tried to mimic this harsh realisation musically, the cautious, inquisitive opening and verses starkly interrupted by the crushing weight of the latter half of the song – it’s repetitive chords, layered vocals and swirling synths evoking all-enveloping and uncontrollable sorrow.”
“Williams moves with ease between singer-songwriter territory and post-metal heaviness… Forever Blue is a remarkable accomplishment, confirming that Williams has already built a world of her own.”
MOJO – 4 stars ****
“Revelatory… Minimalist singer-songwriter material blending with elements of classical, metal and post-rock to make a distinctive whole.” The Observer (One To Watch)
“Darkly beguiling… A.A. Williams’ songs maintain an eerie delicacy whether she chooses a setting that’s spare, ornate or pulverising… The shifts between moments of high drama and quiet tension point to her kinship with Chelsea Wolfe and PJ Harvey.” Uncut
“Stirring and evocative… We’re only halfway through 2020 but the chances of a more heartrending and fully formed debut emerging this year are practically zero.” Metal Hammer – 9/10
“Beautifully meditative… music that hypnotises… An impressive debut.” PROG
Making her stage debut in April 2019 and selling out her first headline show at London’s prestigious Southbank Centre less than a year later, A.A. Williams has hit the ground running. Similarly, the acclaim for her performances and her music has been unanimous from the start. After one self-titled EP and the 10” vinyl collaboration Exit in Darkness with Japanese post-rockers MONO, the London-based singer-songwriter has signed to Bella Union and made a stunning debut album, Forever Blue.
A rapturous blend of post-rock and post-classical, Forever Blue smoulders with uncoiling melodies and haunted atmospheres, shifting from serenity to explosive drama, often within the same song. Williams is a fantastic musician as well as songwriter, playing the guitar, cello and piano, and her voice has the controlled delivery of a seasoned chanteuse whilst still channelling the rawest of emotions.
Forever Blue is named after a song that didn’t make the album’s final cut, “but it still encapsulated these songs,” Williams explains. “It sounded timeless and in the right place.” The album’s threads encapsulate the anxieties and addiction of love and loss with haunting detail, though Williams admits the theme was shaped more by her subconscious than any grand plan.
It’s testament to Williams’ skills, and those of husband and bassist Thomas Williams, that Forever Blue’s commanding sound was largely captured at the couple’s two-bedroom flat in North London. Drums by Geoff Holroyde were added at engineer Adrian Hall’s studio in South London, with guest vocals from Johannes Persson (Cult Of Luna), who adds his deep-trawling growl to ‘Fearless’ (“he sounds like Tectonic plates moving” Williams feels), Fredrik Kihlberg (Cult Of Luna) on ‘Glimmer’ and Tom Fleming (One True Pairing, ex-Wild Beasts) on ‘Dirt’.
Williams can scarcely believe she’s in such exalted company, or that her band has toured with Cult Of Luna, Russian Circles, Explosions In The Sky, Nordic Giants and Sisters Of Mercy, whilst performing with MONO at their 10th anniversary show. It’s not because she doesn’t trust her own worth but that Williams only became a singer-songwriter by chance.
Having taken music lessons from the age of six and been immersed in classical music, Williams’ life was forever changed when she discovered Deftones in her mid-teens, “and after them, all things heavy,” she recalls. “It was music that made me feel included, that tapped into me.”
Yet it was only years later, when she found a guitar in the street with a note attached, “please take me, just needs work,” that Williams started playing guitar, and only started writing songs as a way of learning how to play. “I wrote in different styles to find a sound I was comfortable with,” she says. “Likewise, with singing. I’d never before thought of singing with a microphone in front of other people. It’s been quite a journey.”
That journey was thrown off course by the Coronavirus lockdown, but Williams’ response has been the ‘Songs From Isolation’ video project; solo renditions of songs suggested by her fans including Radiohead’s ‘Creep’, Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘If You Could Read My Mind’, Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Every Day Is Exactly The Same’ and Nick Cave’s ‘Into Your Arms’.
As ‘Songs From Isolation’ keeps posting intimate messages from a place of solitude, Forever Blue will spread the news of A.A. Williams’ extraordinary talent far and wide – and once lockdown is over, she and her band will be taking the next steps on her journey by touring the record. She’s already come so far but this story is only just beginning.