“This isn’t really a follow-up to Petals For Armor,” Hayley Williams front-woman of Paramore explains of her second solo album in an email sent to her fans. “If anything, it’ s a prequel, or some sort of detour between parts 1 and 2 of Petals. Whatever it is, it has two names: FLOWERS for VASES and descansos.”
No stranger to music, Williams has been writing songs and performing for most of her life, but what you’ll hear on FLOWERS for VASES/descansos, is the gentle melodies of quiet isolation and the sorrowful, slow, recovery process that can come from re-visitations with your past selves. Written, recorded, and performed solely by herself, Williams made her new album entirely from her home in Nashville, TN. “The first thing to go was the sound of his voice,” she sings in the opening line of the record. With ties to song stories of yearning and longing, FLOWERS for VASES/descansos showcases the hushed results of what it’s been like for Williams to explore healing with no one but herself.
Known primarily for her band’s punk rock roots, bold melodies, and fierce vocals, Williams’ solo career has shown audiences one thing that’s not only true about herself but about all of us – there is always more than one side to ourselves that we let the world know about.
Both her first solo record, Petals for Armor, and her latest release tackle this idea, but there’s something profound about FLOWERS for VASES/descansos‘s quiet declarations that give the more acoustic, soft, and reflective side of Williams’s artistry the sincere, raw, relatability anyone can admire or draw strength from. Where her first solo record became the soundtrack to exploring rage, frustration, protection, and finding the will to let go of pain, her second one brings to light a melodic path of healing.
The artists’ talent for writing songs about where things all go wrong is what gave Paramore the explosive influence they still have today, but now wading into solo music territory, Williams reflects on what it means to view things like past trials, her adolescent years, and even love in a new light.
“All I ever had to say about love is a sad song,” she sings, “So what do people sing about when they’ve finally found it?” From “Trigger” to “Good Grief,” Williams is taking a step back and reflecting on what used to hurt and what still hurts, and even through all the melancholic sound, the album simultaneously doesn’t fail to present its listeners with the idea that alleviation from pain exists.
Her song, “Find Me Here,” is about trusting a process and “the feeling of surrendering your loved ones to their own, personal struggles. Letting them take their time and come to their own rescue,” she explains.
What the album’s ethereal sound and introspective lyrics also insinuate, however, is that there is an underlying strength you find when you surrender yourself to your own struggles too, and though Williams describes the record as a “prequel” to Petals for Armor, there is still significance in the fact that songs about solitude, personal heaven, painful regret, and a weird but calming silence were written after the ones on Petals for Armor were. It’s because these new songs hint at the simple idea of improvement and even if it’s not completely all there yet, it someday will be. On FLOWERS for VASES/descansos, Williams pulls from her past torment so delicately that she dissipates it just enough for listeners to believe that over the hills, there is a glimpse of light, a hope you once had, a dream of better days, and the untouchable promise that healing always follows after the rage.
Photography by Lindsey Byrnes