Today, Zachary Williams (The Lone Bellow) has released a new single, the stunning duet “Her Picture,” featuring country singer-songwriter Ashley Monroe. Listen here. The single follows the announcement of his debut solo record, Dirty Camaro out October 22nd on Dualtone Records. The album was produced by Robert Ellis and Josh Block at Niles City Sound in Fort Worth, TX and features Monroe, Anderson East, singer-songwriters John Paul White and Thad Cockrell and the gospel group Settles Connection. Williams also shared the first single earlier this month – “Game For Guessing” which includes an appearance from the album’s producer, Texas singer-songwriter Robert Ellis. Its companion music video was directed by Debbie Ewing. Watch here. Fans can pre-order Dirty Camaro today and limited edition vinyl, CD, and merch available via Dualtone.
Zachary Williams on “Her Picture (feat. Ashley Monroe).“For this one in particular I was definitely following the lead of John Prine’s ‘Angel From Montgomery’ —- where he said ‘I am an old woman named after my mother,’ he completely put himself in someone else’s story and that’s what I was trying to do here. I thought it would be a good time singing a song from a woman’s perspective. But later, I realized it would be even better as a duet with Ashley. She is a force to be reckoned with – she has a quiet presence full of power and peace while she creates. It’s such an honor to have this song with her and to call her a friend.”
Zachary Williams is best known as ⅓ of the Nashville-based supergroup The Lone Bellow. All born in the South, the three members met while living in Brooklyn and quickly found that in addition to having commonality in their upbringing, they all had wildly potent voices, a knack for harmonies and a desire to write in the great Southern story-telling tradition – songs about heartbreak and struggles and the human condition. The Lone Bellow has released five studio albums with one produced by Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Sturgil Simpson) and two produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner (Taylor Swift, Sharon Van Etten), including their most recent Half Moon Light.
The pursuit of music wasn’t always a fore drawn conclusion for Williams, rather it was the colossal hammer of fate and its aftermath that led him there. He had married his childhood best friend early (as kids in the South do), and soon after their life began, barely adults themselves Stacy suffered a terrible accident falling from her horse. Paralysis was the diagnosis and Williams’ immediate answer was movement – move to New York City, move to follow their dreams, spiritually walk right out of that place. Miraculously, Stacy eventually was able to walk again but their plans were in place. Williams began playing open mics at Rockwood Music Hall, gathering a fervent fan-base leading to Bowery Ballroom sell-outs before abandoning his solo-career for The Lone Bellow. Dirty Camaro serves as a book end to that pursuit, a return to unfinished business and the solo album he always meant to write. He honors Stacy in the song “Anything” singing, “you were my first favorite day, first dream that didn’t let me sleep, first time I ever felt this way. You were my first anything.”
Dirty Camaro is filled with lush string arrangements, vaudevillian piano, touches of honky tonk, saxophones and a wink that often isn’t found in The Lone Bellow’s earnest music. It’s lyrically reminiscent of Randy Newman and John Prine and its Williams self-effacing sense of humour that drives and entertains throughout. It’s clear that Williams has lived enough life to know he knows nothing. And his musings on the meaning of it all is an admixture of the people you love and the scenes that have amused you.
What stands out most in Zachary Williams’ Dirty Camaro is its dynamism and its musical dynamics. Each song is its own universe. There are quieter moments in the ballad “Elizabeth” and in the scorned-lover narrative duet “Her Picture” with Ashley Monroe. There are burn-the-house-down revivals (“That’s Why I Still Sleep With The Lights On”), gospel meditations (“Road Over That Mountain” featuring Settles Connection), Hank Williams Jr. style bar-band tracks (“Dirty Camaro”) and lounge-singer longings (“Airplane”). All of it is quilted together with Williams’ phenomenal access to his emotional interior and it’s buoyed by a voice that fans have been moved by for years. It hits different here, untethered and free to explore all the versions of himself he’s been ever since that moment he found himself, by her hospital bed.