After a 15-month timeline, Williams Honor has released their debut record. Performing up and down the coast, they honed their 11-song recorded set until they felt it was ready to go. But they didn’t just decide on the songs all by their lonesome. The material was gauged throughout live performances where their fans helped to decide which songs fit best. They spent a sizable amount of time writing and finishing the record in Nashville before coming back to the Jersey Shore and kicking off a series of shows. Shows such as Sammy Boyd’s Paramount Backstage Series, Gordon’s relaunch of Writers In The Raw songwriter series at Langosta Lounge, and One Night With Reagan Richards, a show where she picks her favorite songs and performs them at Tim McCloone’s on the Boardwalk.
All 11 tracks are penned by Brown and Richards with two of the cuts being co-written with Joe Grushecky and Cyndi Thomas. Gordon says about that, “Joe came out to see us earlier this year in his hometown of Pittsburgh and during the intermission he said he had a few ideas for us to check out. It was a real treat for us to be able to write a song with him and then have one of our favorite musicians from the area Marc Muller (Shania Twain) play pedal steel on it.”
The other co-write comes courtesy of Cyndi Thomas. Cyndi is a top 10 Billboard artist that contributed to the song “No Umbrella.” Reign Richards had this to say about that experience: “We felt like this song might be one of those songs to connect with on the first listen. Writing with Cyndi was so natural and cathartic to do.”
Brown also has been known for his co-writing and production work and has recently scored with a song that turned into Blackjack Billy’s (Reviver Records) leadoff single, “Why God Made Summertime.” It became a top five selection on SiriusXM’s The Highway and is receiving substantial airplay on country radio.
Williams Honors’ recent show at Tim McLoone’s was a solid performance and showcased many of the songs on this brand new self-titled disc. The night was sold out, and the band was on fire. It was actually my birthday, so I was there more for fun than work, but they gave me the new record, and I will now go through some of it and give you a rundown on Williams Honor and their latest project.
Starting things off is “Loser.” Utilizing a swampy, pedal steel-dominated vibe, “Loser” kicks off with the Shania Twain styling of Regan Richards. Richards’ vocal talent is strong and vibrant. Her lyrical spin is one of the descriptions of the disintegration of a relationship. Richards describes the horrible “Ex” in all of our lives. The chorus is strong and memorable for days, as is the rhythm section. Brown’s guitar work is tight and toned, as is his background vocal assist. “Loser” is a great song that should do well on the charts.
“Send It To Me” combines new country class with pop overtones. Brown and Richards are effortless singers and their combined voices push this tune right into the listener’s heart. The chorus is repetitive gold, and the middle-eight guitar work is pure pentatonic rock and roll joy. I’m not sure who handles the bass and drums on this disc, but they hold things together nicely.
“All Your Heart” is up next. Featuring 12-string guitar and piano, Brown and Richards serenade the listener with a top-shelf ballad selection. Organs wash throughout the background, adding faultless accompaniment. This is another song that should do well with radio.
Moving around the disc, “No Umbrella” hits the player next. This is the song that Williams Honor co-wrote with Cyndi Thomas. This song is a hit. Utilizing a rock delivery, “No Umbrella” pumps out of the speakers with a combination of Richards’ strong vocals and Brown’s production smarts. Brown is an experienced producer, and his style comes through in spades here. Guitars, bass and drums meld perfectly to deliver the perfect backdrop for Richards and Brown to deliver their image-laden tune. The subject matter seems to cover the passing of a loved one and Richards’ emotive qualities shine brightly. “No Umbrella” is one of my favorite songs on the disc so far.
Another standout track is “You’re The Kind Of Guy (That Taylor Writes About).” Tongue-in-cheek subject matter concerning the type of man that Taylor Swift (and maybe Regan Richards) makes big money describing through song. Gordon Brown chugs through the verse as Richards describes the smarmy loser that thinks everyone is stupid. Imagery floats through dicey photos and relationship deceit as the band tears into the crux of everything. Background vocals stand out like gangbusters against Richards’ proficient lead vocal chores like no one else I know. This is yet another fine example of a hit song on the move to higher ground.
Another mentionable is “Don’t Wanna’ Let You go.” Richards lays down smooth and luxurious vocals in the vein of Dolly Parton here. Gordon Brown mentions the fact that they used a whole lot of Nashville players on this disc, and it sounds like Music Row to me. Once again Brown shines bright with his production savvy. Guitars mix with bass, drums and keyboards in the smartest of ways on “Don’t Wanna Let You Go.”
Another great song is “Daddy’s Arms.” Co-written with Joe Grushecky and featuring the pedal steel magic of Marc Muller, this is a top-shelf country tune. Regan’s vocal treatment is pure gold. Running from the traditional sounds of Miranda Lambert to the melodic twist of Loretta Lynn, Richards lays out the directive for this addictive song. Lyrical imagery flows from the very heartland of Tennessee’s farmland. This is the story of a daughter and the love of a doting father. It’s nice to see wholesome content in today’s musical offerings, and “Daddy’s Arms” has that in spades. Regan knows how to sing a great story and this is a standout tune on this lovable disc.
Williams Honor is a great band with something good to say. If this is their first full-length disc, I can only imagine where they’ll end up next. Filled with infective and addictive songs, Brown and Richards score way above the norm when it comes to laying down great country-tinged pop music.
To grab the new CD and to find out what they’re up to next, head over to allhour.net.