With six full-lengths to his credit already, Hayward Williams doesn’t let much get in the way of his creative process. Though the world definitely threw more than a few curve balls his way prior to the recording album number seven, the veteran Milwaukee singer-songwriter rolled with the punches, made necessary adjustments, and managed to squeeze some good from a particularly chaotic point in his life with Every Color Blue.
The forthcoming album—set to be released Friday, August 21—was originally supposed to be recorded by Williams and a cast of collaborators in Chicago this spring. Of course that didn’t wind up happening for obvious reasons. Those COVID-19-nixed plans were actually small potatoes when compared to other events Williams has been experiencing of late. Changed recording plans don’t hold a candle to things like “friends in the hospital, a pandemic, an eight-month pregnant doctor-wife working in the ER on the front lines, political upheaval, the deaths of several dear loved ones, and the birth of a son all within a few months.”
While dealing with those hardships (some unique to his family, others universally experienced), Williams says he “needed to work toward something positive with [his] idle mind.” He accomplished just that with Every Color Blue, a vibrant collection of 12 songs that collectively push back against the darkness. The bandleader is joined on the release by a baker’s dozen of background players and guest vocalists who provided their contributions remotely.
“With musicians spread across the country in lockdown, changes had to be made,” Williams says. “Music making became a therapeutic exercise for those stuck in a world where everything else had come to a halt.”
In addition to the “lineup of friends and collaborators who were let off the chain to create” shimmering and soulful material on eight original songs, Williams and company also crafted unique covers of four songs by the singer’s friends Jeffrey Foucault (“Passerines”), Kris Delmhorst (“If Not For Love”), J. Hardin (“Run Jackie Run”), and John Statz (“With Some Horses”). Between those captivating covers and standouts like the warm “If You Want Me To Beg,” the silky smooth “Oh What You Must Think Of Me,” the uplifting title track, and rambunctious album-ender “Paradise Springs”—which features Sturgill Simpson’s horn section!—Williams didn’t just make the most of a stressful time with Every Color Blue. He also quite possibly made his best record yet.
Before Hayward Williams releases Every Color Blue on Friday, August 21, you can listen to the album in its entirely below.