If only I was someone else
I could have tried to help myself
It could have been so safe and good
But enough’s enough, enough’s enough
Written by: Heavy Grinder
It takes but the first stanza to become captivated by her warm and rich vocal timbre; gripped by the message, pointed and reaching deep into the soul; blanketed by the hearty and spatial sound that, despite just being piano and vocals at this point, completely envelops you leaving no path for escape.
It’s not as if you would want to or even try to take that first step in the opposite direction. A.A. Williams, in her opening lines of Forever Blue, softly paralyzes you into docility, forcing an internal reckoning within yourself that you didn’t know you needed, but yet are unable to refuse. Your time is hers and you will not shy from the moment because, as you will quickly realize, her voice navigates to the place where you thought you had refuge, only to find her awakening that spirit you sought to hide, bury, and quiet.
There is simultaneous strength and subtlety in her voice and it is fascinating to experience. Her delivery radiates confidence yet presents an intimacy that is perhaps perfectly visualized by the dual faces presented on the Forever Blue cover. A.A. has great instinct and knows when to whisper and when to soar. She is presented sonically primarily as a singular figure, in other words she doesn’t sound double-tracked or orchestral. Though when she does sing with backing vocal tracks she achieves a massive sound without losing the immediacy and bite of her voice, a very difficult feat to pull off. There is no better example than on the album opener "All I Asked For (Was To End It All)", which displays great separation of the main and backing vocals, while keeping her voice sharp, full and supported.
Complimenting her superb delivery, the instrumentation, arrangements, and production are all spotless and free of defect. The musicianship is perfect in that, down to the note, everyone just knows where to be. I’m not sure exactly how long the band has been with A.A. or if they were session hires, but they did not seem it in the slightest and knew exactly how to play with and for A.A. They move with ease, wholly compliment and augment her, and play the perfect role without exception. They move the tempo forward when the song needs drive, and lays back and lets A.A. conjure her magic free from interference when she needs the space. Simply a masterclass in how to let a musician breathe.
As a singer, A.A. Williams is for those moments when you wish Chelsea Wolfe would step out of the shadows and let her voice shine in the sun. For when you want Bjôrk to slow her brilliant yet frenetic pace and live in a moment long enough to savor it before moving on. For when you want Lana Del Rey to relent and shed the veneer of her schtick and let you inside her heart to see what’s inside.
Forever Blue has the crushing magnitude and presence of "When the Levee Breaks," with the honesty and intimacy of Fiona Apple. Three of the middle songs include male vocal accompaniment which is the only fault I can find with the work. It’s not that they are particularly bad in any way; moreso that I wanted to remain in the sphere of her voice undisturbed. A.A. simply is that good not to need any help.
Forever Blue is a confident album without any sense of hubris or glamour. There is no shame her work neither; no self-loathing to be found, no victimization, and most definitely no weakness. There is vulnerability throughout certainly, but Forever Blue is not an album for those seeking to wallow in pity or remorse. It is a sonic and lyrical dialogue that each of us would be wise to entertain that also happens to be a stunning musical document.
They say it’s possible or even likely that at the smallest level in our universe there are vibrating strings that hum the tune of life and existence. If that is true, I would expect A.A. Williams to be there with her hands on those strings gently and masterfully pulling the intimate intricacies of our lives.
Please forgive me
I’m broken and I can’t decide
If I’m worthy of the love your threatening to hide
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!