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Download Petals For Armor

by Hayley Williams
  • Release type: Album
  • Year: 2020
  • Tracks: 15
  • Duration: 55:47
  • Size, Mb: 128.6
  • Bitrate: MP3 320

Review

Hayley Williams' artful and deeply personal solo debut, 2020's Petals for Armor, reportedly comes on the heels of a period of deep self-reflection for the longtime Paramore vocalist, and it shows. Along with Paramore's breakthrough chart success with their 2013 self-titled album and 2017's After Laughter, Williams and the band endured three frought lineup changes. It was also during these years that Williams married, divorced, and saw her beloved grandmother endure a life-altering injury. She brings all of these experiences to bear on Petals for Armor, digging with poetic intensity into the depression and self-doubt that have often clouded her success. Joining Williams is Paramore guitarist Taylor York who also takes the helm as producer. A fluidly inventive instrumentalist and songwriter, York brings the same level of empathetic creativity to Williams' work here as he does with Paramore. Also on board are Paramore touring bassist Joey Howard (who shares at least half of the co-writing credits), drummer Aaron Steele (Ghost Beach, Fences, Ximena Sarinana), and cellist/violinist Benjamin Kaufman. Together, they've crafted a series of intimate mood pieces that pair Williams' candid lyrics (she also plays guitar and keyboards) with arty post-rock arrangements and evocative adult-contemporary flourishes. There's a palpable sense of exploration on Petals for Armor, as Williams includes nods to the progressive Baroque pop and funky dance music of artists like Kate Bush, Tori Amos, and David Byrne. Cuts like the opening "Simmer" and "Leave It Alone" have a narcotic dream energy, punctuated by menacing bass grooves and icy string accents. They also showcase Williams' continued growth as a singer, her resonant voice pulled down to a hushed lilt one minute and a soaring, mellifluous shimmer the next. While there's a sculpted precision to many of these songs, they are balanced with a frank emotionality. On the dancey, Latin-inflected "Dead Horse," Williams details a toxic relationship, singing "Every morning I wake up/From a dream of you/Holding me underwater/Is that a dream or a memory?/Held my breath for a decade/Dyed my hair blue to match my lips/Cool of me to try/Pretty cool I'm still alive." Also helping to illuminate Williams' softly cathartic sound are singer/songwriter's Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker who sing back-up on the flowing, downtempo orchestral track "Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris." It's a textured, nuanced song, rife with an empowered and explicitly feminine eye for detail. Williams sings, "I think of all the wilted women/Who crane their necks to reach a window/Ripping all their petals off just cause 'He loves me now, he loves me not.' 'While there's certainly an audible sense of collaboration on Petals for Armor, it's Williams' ability to turn her dark, personal moments into anthems of survival that stick with you. As she sings on "Watch Me While I Bloom," "I'm alive in spite of me/And I'm on my move/So come and look inside of me/Watch me while I bloom."

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