Hayley Williams lets go of the dead and grasps for the living on ‘FLOWERS for VASES / Descansos’
“Williams steps back and showcases a more personal and vulnerable side of herself in a manner similar to Taylor Swift’s folklore.”
After her first solo album, Petals for Armor, Hayley Williams quickly followed up that debut with her sophomore attempt, FLOWERS for VASES / descansos. Compared to the pop and R&B highlighted on her first record, Williams steps back and showcases a more personal and vulnerable side of herself in a manner similar to Taylor Swift’s folklore.
The album as a whole bears the heavy weight of change as Williams named it after two things, the first being a scrawled afterthought on a grocery list, proving the inspiration for greatness can come from anywhere. As she told a fan on Twitter, the three words resonated with her since she is learning “how to not hold onto dead things,” and the note was so she could replace those dead flowers with living ones. The second title, “descansos” translates from Spanish to literally mean “break,” but has a more macabre meaning as well. A descanso is a cross placed in memoriam at the spot of a violent or unexpected death. With these two images in mind, fans can go in knowing that this is about to be the most intimate album from Williams yet.
Her vocals take center stage along with acoustic guitar and minimal production that makes it sound more cinematic and personal than driving the songs forward. Williams opens the album reminiscing on someone she lost by simultaneously trying to remember and mourning and fearing all that she’s lost. “First thing to go was the sound of his voice” she opens the songs with, letting listeners know that this is a new direction from her pop-punk days with Paramore or even her last album. “Trigger” is another heartbreaking tune that finds Williams pondering the end of a relationship. “I got the trigger but you hold the gun / How come you never put the safety on.”
Outside of the topics Williams sings about, she has a solo writing credit on every song and played each instrument heard on the album. She also included old VHS tapes from her first Halloween on “Good Grief” and “Descansos.” From writing to recording, it’s clear that Williams put her heart and soul into this release. Deeply personal and haunting melodies are ready to make you feel sad and introspective. As I listened to it, all I wanted to do was stare out the window dramatically looking at a rainstorm. Though she’s said that this would be the end of her solo career, Williams is not slowing down and is ready to start making more Paramore music again. But even with that excitement, there’s a little part of me wishing that she changes her mind and lets us look into the deepest parts of her mind again.
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