Stout, twangy guitar tones, honky-tonk pianos, and swirling pedal steel lay the framework for Alex Williams’ debut album, ‘Better Than Myself,’ out August 11 on Big Machine Records. The 12-track blend of vintage country and southern rock reflects the Pendleton, Indiana, native’s lived-in baritone that breathes genuine life and depth into his based-on-a-true-story brand of songwriting.
Big Machine Label Group’s Julian Raymond — a three-time GRAMMY-winning songwriter and producer known for his work with Jennifer Nettles, Justin Moore, Glen Campbell and Hank Williams Jr. — assembled an all-star band encompassing some of Nashville’s finest musicians: drummer Victor Indrizzo (Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris), keyboard player Matt Rollings (Lyle Lovett, Mark Knopfler), bassist Joeie Canaday (Leann Rimes, Steven Curtis Chapman), pedal steel player Dan Dugmore (James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt), and guitarists Tom Bukovac (Don Henley, Stevie Nicks) and J.T. Corenflos (Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson).
With Raymond at the helm as producer, Williams and the band recorded live on the studio floor and wrapped basic tracking in just two days. The result is a rollicking throwback chock full of wit and wisdom, colored throughout by Williams’ fierce streak of independence. Album opener “Better Than Myself,” which features harmonica legend and longtime Willie Nelson band member Mickey Raphael, sets the stage perfectly, as Williams sings, “Truth be told in every note I play / Truth be told I don’t care what you say.“
On the fingerpicked “Pay No Mind,” Williams imparts hard-won insight about what (and who) really matters, while the folky “Freak Flag” is a devil-may-care ode to being yourself, and “Little Too Stoned” laments the loss of the authentic in favor of our society’s obsession with the latest trends and fads. Elsewhere on the album, the hard-charging “Hell Bent Hallelujah” offers up a profane prayer for some good news, the infectious “More Than Survival” insists on living a life that’s more meaningful than just getting by, and “A Few Short Miles” draws inspiration from a figure Williams met during early days onstage in Texas.
“It seems like there’s a lot of people out there just trying to get through the day,” reflects Williams. “They’re working a job they don’t love or following somebody else’s dreams just because it’s safe and it keeps them comfortable. I didn’t want to be like that.”
Following the album’s true-to-form vision, Williams’ live show is a force to be reckoned with that has earned him dates with everyone from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Hank Williams, Jr. Currently on tour through the Summer, dates and ticket information are available at alexwilliamsofficial.com.
“Better Than Myself’ Tracklist:
1. Better Than Myself
2. Hellbent Hallelujah
3. More Than Survival
4. Freak Flag
5. Week Without A Drink
6. A Little Too Stoned
7. Old Tattoo
8. Strange Days
9. Pay No Mind
10. Can’t Get Enough Of You
11. Few Short Miles (Bobby’s Song)
12. Last Cross