The Ones We Never Knew

Country pedigree notwithstanding, one is still taken aback by the depth of this captivating debut.

Country pedigree notwithstanding, one is still taken aback by the depth of this captivating debut. Holly Williams is true to her genetics, displaying the straightforward honesty of her grandfather and the maverick spirit of her father. Still, this is about Holly Williams' own intriguing worldview. On the introspective "Sometimes," she sings, "I wish I was a fine wine/I wish I were a good drug/And if I were Jesus maybe I could heal all of us." On the insightful "Between Your Lines," she offers, "I don't know why you fold in the arms of reality/Why do you break with every wave in your stormy sea?" Production is understated and atmospheric, relying mostly on Williams' own guitar or piano or an artful blending of acoustic, orchestral and rock guitar ("Would You Still Have Fallen"). Her wounded vocal mesmerizes on "I'll Only Break Your Heart," and she's a keenly perceptive songwriter ("Man in the Making," "Memory of Me"). A moody, occasionally stunning debut that only gets better with repeated listenings.—RW