'Cotton Bell' (2009)
By Hayward Williams in 2009Updated Jan 2021
Hayward Williams is a veteran singer/songwriter from Milwaukee, WI. With six full length records under his belt, Williams is set to release his latest effort: Pretenders. This record is yet another…
Hayward Williams is a veteran singer/songwriter from Milwaukee, WI. With six full length records under his belt, Williams is set to release his latest effort: Pretenders. This record is yet another swan dive into the deep end of the Americana/Soul world that Hayward tends to reside in.
Growing up in Wisconsin in the 80's and 90's convinced Hayward Williams to search for something more out there in the world. Foregoing higher education, he joined a band and learned much about what to do and what not to do in the Midwest music scene. Playing in pubs for many years, getting thick skin and finding a notably sharp tongue, avenues opened up to Williams. Headlining European tours, major US festivals and a few trips to Australia later, Hayward has carved out an impressive niche in the folk music business.
Williams' previous release, The Reef, was produced by venerated songwriter, friend and collaborator Jeffrey Foucault. Utilizing an impressive rhythm section of Billy Conway (Morphine) on drums and Jeremy Moses Curtis (Booker T, Levon Helm, Session Americana) on bass, The Reef is an unequaled Americana record with soaring vocals and hooks that dig in deep. "The surprisingly soulful voice of Milwaukee-based singer/songwriter Hayward Williams emanates from a slight, almost unassuming figure, yet that voice is imbued with so much power, it's difficult to imagine it coming from anywhere other than midway between Memphis and Muscle Shoals... The Reef is an album to return to again and again." - Allan Wilkinson, Northern Sky Magazine (UK)
Pretenders was recorded in October of 2016 at Midwest Sound in Rockford, IL under a full moon and the care of Dan McMahon and Jeremy Koester. Hayward and J. Hardin would co-produced the album. Charles Koltak, who played drums on Williams' Haymaker (2012) teamed up with Jeremy Moses Curtis in the rhythm section. Corey Matthew Hart of Madison, WI (Lost Lakes) would lend his talented voice and guitar work to the project during one late night session. Finally, Brooks Milgate would send his B3 performances in remotely from the east coast adding a layer to the project that would fit in with any Al Green classic.
"Often dark, always honest and in the groove, Williams continues to break new ground in new traditional folk rock. There’s a ghostly spirit that floats through the songs on “Pretenders.” Williams is a wary caretaker of those spirits. His songs brim with the smoke and mirror lyricism of Leonard Cohen—with the rocker’s heart of Neil Young."
-Andy Moore ISTHMUS (Madison, WI)