MP3 Rachel Williams - Lonely At the Bottom
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16 MP3 Songs
COUNTRY: Country Rock, COUNTRY: Modern Country
Rachel Williams: Lonely At the Bottom
Rachel Williams likes her country music with generous helpings of straight-ahead slow-burners, big rock hooks and Motor City-bred rhythm and blues. And it just so happens that the Michigan-born singer has the pipes to straddle the genre-bending territory between southern-fried twang, heartbroken balladry and chugging, bottom-heavy grooves. With Lonely At the Bottomâher second full-length albumâWilliams unites the styles she loves in a potent and mature artistic statement. In a day when most albums average twelve tracks or less, Lonely boasts a lavish sixteen songs.
âI was writing so much that I just couldn't bear to part with any of the songsâthey were all significant to me for one reason or another,â Williams explains. âI felt that the only way to get a true representation of who I am right now and the music that I'm doing these days was to include them all. It definitely ended up being better this way, because instead of the token âone acoustic song, one power ballad, one party song, etc.,â we got to put together an album with no limitations.â
Songwriting is a relatively new addition to the twenty-one-year-old artistsâ already formidable arsenal. Just a few years back she was relying on others for material (her debut, First Day Of The Truth featured her first Nashville co-write, âWelcome To Loveâ), but she wrote or co-wrote twelve of the sixteen songs on Lonely. âIt feels like Iâve been writing since Iâve been singing. I just never thought of myself as a strong songwriter until I moved down here and started working at it, constantly. I never thought that Iâd be able to write as much as I have and to have the songs stand up against the stuff that we were being pitched by other songwriters,â she says. âI just couldnât find anything that was beating what I was writing at the time. A lot of times, nobody knows what I want to say better than me.â
In another significant first, Williams took part in every aspect of the record-making process this time around, from presiding over artwork design to co-producing the albumâs sixteen tracks with Kim Copeland. âThe first album, I basically went in there and did my thing, sang my leads, did some background vocals and then I went back to Michigan,â she says. âWith this album I wanted to be completely involved in everything that was happening.â
As the album title suggests, the songs are earthy, accessible narratives about lifeâs ups and downs. âThis new CD just kind of follows me through some of the disappointments that I was experiencing in relationships and my career,â says Williams. âI basically tore out my journal and put it on a CD. Itâs a very scary, vulnerable place to be. But Iâd rather put it all out on the line then hold back and be unsure. Thatâs my release, how I keep sane. I always tell people, âDonât ever break my heart, because you will hear it in a song at some point down the road.â Guaranteed.â
âThereâs a lot of dark songs on here,â she adds. âI know that a lot of people are going to say, âWhat does she know about that?â, but theyâd be surprised. I have felt these things and I have watched people I love dearly go through them as well. Thereâs absolutely nothing on this album that I canât relate to one hundred percent.â
The title trackâa driving pop-rock anthem with an infectious hookâis a declaration of independence from a controlling lover. Against the meaty blues-rock riffs of âFirestarter,â Williams struts, belts and dares a tease to âfinish what he started.â With âHow Does It Feelââa Williams solo writeâshe turns the tables on a guy whoâs cut and run. Her honeyed drawl hovers above the searing guitars and swelling B-3 of melancholic rocker âRain On the Windshield,â while aching acoustic ballad âKill Me In the Morningâ has Williams seeking a salve at the bottom of a shot glass and in a strangerâs bed. âWorld Famousââa gorgeous acoustic ballad sweetened with plaintive, lyrical guitar and pianoâtells a story that she knows all too wellâthe small town star chases her dreams to the big city, only to find herself lost in the crowd, working for her big break.
Assembling the album piece by piece, they enlisted a revolving crew of ace studio musicians, including several of Nashvilleâs most in-demand drummers, from Nick Buda (Taylor Swift, Mindy Smith) to Wayne Killius (Big and Rich, Steve Forbert), Brian Pruitt (Mark Chesnutt, LeAnn Rimes) and Owen Hale (Lynyrd Skynyrd, George Strait, Patty Loveless).
Williamsâ solid musical foundation was laid early on in life. A native of Belleville, Mi., she grew up within shouting distance of the birthplace of the Motown sound. From the tender age of twoâwhen her grandfather took her to her first Judds concertâWilliams cultivated a devotion to Wynonna. Watching countless Wynonna television appearances and reading every interview she could get her hands on, the aspiring singer admired the personal strength and career longevity that she herself would later strive for as an artist.
âAt five years old I told everybody I was going to be the next Wynonna,â she recalls amusedly. âMy mom would always ask if she could sing with me, and I would say, âNo, I donât need a Naomi.ââ
Williams had two significant things going for her from the startâa strikingly full-bodied voice and the conviction that she was born to be a performer. Her passion and raw talent only became clearer as she progressed from herding family members into the living room to witness her hairbrush/microphone mini-concerts to sweeping talent shows and choir competitions.
The budding siren conquered the club and fair circuits of Michigan and surrounding states in her teens, handling the bulk of booking responsibilities herself, but she finally gained national exposure as a top 15 finalist on the USA Networkâs Nashville Star 2. Working as a waitress at the time the show aired, she soon became known to two million viewers as âthat Cracker Barrel girl.â
âWe would have tons of people call Cracker Barrel and come in to see me, and Iâd be covered in coffee from waitressing,â she laughs. âI canât even tell you how many menus I signed.â
Following Nashville Star, media attention and a string of noteworthy opening slots (including Williamsâ crowing achievementâa long-coveted show date with Wynonna) she decided it was time to up the ante and leave the restaurant job behind. With the subsequent recording of her full-length debutâ2004âs First Day of the Truthâthe singer solidified her heady mélange of country, R&B and rock.
After relocating to Nashville in late 2004, Williams began burning up the road with her band every chance she could get, touring with Jason Aldean, Sammy Kershaw and other acts, as well as playing numerous showcases around town. The setlist and the venues may change from night to night, but one thing remains constantâsheâs dedicated to delivering a great stage show, the kind that wins over even the audience members who donât typically like country music.
âEvery time I perform on stage, as corny as it sounds, I really feel like I put myself out there,â she offers. âI leave nothing to the imagination. Iâll just tell you straight out. Sure itâs draining, but when you choose a career in music I donât feel like you have a choice. You owe people one hundred percent, or nothing at all. If not, then youâre in the wrong field.â
Williamsâ focus on songwriting has begun to pay off in a big way as sheâs logged co-writes with a host of well-respected writers, from Dave Berg, who scored number hits with Reba McEntire (âSomebodyâ) and Rodney Atkins (âIf Youâre Going Through Hellâ), to Stewart Harris, who topped the charts with the Wynonna Judd smash âNo One Else On Earthâ and Travis Trittâs âCan I Trust You With My Heart,â and Lisa Carver, who has had cuts with Sugarland, Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire, and Julie Roberts.. Many industry insiders are starting to take notice of Rachelâs songwriting talents as material for other country music stars as well, as several of her songs are currently being held for numerous major country recording artists.
In 2007 alone, this petite brunette can credit a pair of showcases, a handful of performances in the prestigious late night songwritersâ rounds at Nashvilleâs famed Bluebird Caféâincluding her hosting debutâand a booth at Fan Fairâan important long-running feature of the CMA Music Festivalâfor having raised Williamsâ profile in Music City. Her latest album promises to turn even more heads her way.
Williams may be still be considered a Nashville newcomer, but sheâs already set her sights on forging an enduring musical career. Sheâs too ambitious to aim for becoming country musicâs latest flavor-of-the-moment.
âI look at Bonnie Raitt, Reba McEntire and Wynonna, whoâve been here for decadesâtheyâre not just plaques on the wall in the Hall of Fame. Theyâre still doing their thing and getting loads of respect. It would be so easy to become what the labels are looking for at this moment just to have a hit single on the radio, but those things have never been the end-all goal for me. Iâm not going to apologize for my music. The way that weâre doing things might take a hell-of-a-lot longer, but in the end itâs going to last.â
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