Last August when Sam Williams released the original version of ‘Glasshouse Children’ it was awarded a five star review for its ‘raw emotion and lyrical complexity’. It was an album that explored mid-twenties angst, growing up and the burdens of expectation, particularly when you have a surname related to Country music royalty.
Here we are 15 months later with the release of the deluxe edition of that ground-breaking album. The elephant in the room that needs to be addressed is why release a deluxe version of the album rather than a whole new EP? Well, it’s clear after one listen to the songs on offer here, that there is a direct thematic link back to the original album in terms of sound and style. Additionally, two of the six new songs are remixed or extended versions of songs included on the original too.
Let’s deal with the two old/new songs first. In the original version of ‘Glasshouse Children’, ‘Bulleit Blues’ was a short, minute and a half campfire song with raw production values and raw emotions. You can find part II on this new deluxe version of the album. Now extended to to 3 minutes, it takes the original recording and doubles it. The second half fits seamlessly onto the original, be it a restored version of what was originally recorded or a brand new segment recorded since. The second half takes the song up a notch in terms of volume and intensity. The picked acoustic guitar becomes strummed and the vocals louder. ‘I can’t keep digging my own grave,’ is the line that ends the song as Williams circles back around to self sabotage again. The other old/new song on offer is a remixed version of ‘Wild Girl’. I LOVE what Williams has done with this song. It’s a louder, funkier remix with a heavy bass sound which makes the song even more vibrant as it heads towards a fantastic guitar solo. This should be released as a single, immediately!!
Of the four new songs on offer on the ‘Tilted Crown’ version of ‘Glasshouse Children’ Williams continues to develop his unique brand of uplifting modern Pop with a little Country-round-the-edges polish. ‘Blame ‘Em Both’ sees Williams re-visiting anxiety and his own fallibilities again as he sings about learning how to live in a house of cards. What do you do when you need to blame your head or your heart? You blame them both, of course!! This stylistically hits somewhere between Sam Smith and Cam, somewhere between Harry Styles and Kacey Musgraves. ‘Missing the Malice,’ meanwhile, finds Williams missing the flipside of a toxic relationship. It’s a powerful, intriguing song that leaves an impression on you long after its end. Kudos to the writers who went with the rhyming of ‘chalice’, ‘palace’ and ‘malice’ in the chorus. That’s clever, intelligent stuff right there!
Two further songs round out this new, deluxe version of ‘Glasshouse Children’. ‘Rag Doll’ is a funky, melodic song that mixes Pop sensibilities with plaintive guitars and a southern Country charm. Gospel tinged backing vocals only add to the unique feel that this talented artist displays. The title track, ‘Tilted Crown’, meanwhile, breaks the mold a little in terms of sound. It’s a quiet, Folk-tinged acoustic track on which Williams continues to muse about his heritage and the relationships in his life. Powerful lines like, ‘All the grace and the shame that comes with the name that I got handed down,’ mix beautifully with the kind of Simon & Garfunkel vibes that this track gives off as the melody weaves a feel of late 60s, early 70s on this introspective and intriguing song.
Rather than release a new EP Sam Williams has chosen to continue the exploration of his self, his lineage and his relationships on ‘Tilted Crown’. It feels like he has made the right decision in that these new songs fit perfectly in amongst the ones that were released on the original version. Smooth, slick Pop/Country/Folk vibes abound as he continues to build his sound and reputation as a uniquely talented artist. As our original review said, there is no-one around right now making music in the way that Sam Williams does – he’s a groundbreaking, challenging artist that demands to be listened too. It’ll be too much for some people in terms of the narrow, genre-conventions and pigeonhole expectations that they may have, but for the rest of us who don’t care ‘what’ something is and just love good music made by interesting people we say, hurrah for Sam Williams!
Track listing: 1. Glasshouse Children 2. Happy All The Time (feat. Dolly Parton) 3. Can’t Fool Your Own Blood 4. Bulleit Blues 5. 10-4 6. Wild Girl 7. Kids (feat. Keith Urban) 8. Shuteye 9. Hopeless Romanticism 10. The World: Alone 11. Tilted Crown 12. Bulleit Blues Part II 13. Blame em Both 14. Rag Doll 15. Wild Girl (Remix) 16. Missing the Malice Record label: Mercury Records / Snakefarm Records Release Date: October 14th Buy ‘Glasshouse Children: Tilted Crown’ now