Tessy Lou Williams’ self-titled solo debut, out today, is deeply rooted in traditional country music influences, with the kind of songs you hope to be playing on a dancehall stage when you walk in or emanating from the jukebox when the band isn’t there.
Written primarily in Nashville, and recorded at Station West, Williams and producer Luke Wooten collaborated with an ace band to create the collection that AudioFemme says is "bound to satisfy any traditional country fan’s appetite.” The band included Bryan Sutton (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, mandolin), Mike Johnson (pedal steel, dobro, pedalbro), Aubrey Haney (fiddle), Ashley Campbell (banjo), and background vocals from Carl Jackson, Jerry Salley, Jon Randall, Wes Hightower and Brennen Leigh, just to name a few.
“Why Do I Still Want You,” which American Songwriter says is “rife with classic country elements,” wrestles with a goodbye—looking to biblical advice that can seem a little foggy in context.
“Mountain Time in Memphis” marks Williams’ first Nashville co-write, with Jerry Salley. The song “is an old-time heartbreaker about a woman torn between a new life in Tennessee and the love she left behind in Montana,” according to Wide Open Country.
“Busy Counting Bridges,” another co-write with Salley, is “an old fashioned country shuffle that's about as cheerful and danceable as heartache can get,” The Bluegrass Situation notes.
“Pathway of Teardrops,” featuring Jon Randall on background vocals, offers Williams’ adaptation of the Webb Pierce classic.
Williams’ love of traditional country music spans decades—her whole life. She grew up in Montana, the daughter of two musicians who relocated to the small town of Willow Creek (population: 210) from Nashville. Their three kids traveled with them often, experiencing life on the road surrounded by talented musicians and top-notch songwriting.
After overcoming a paralyzing case of stage fright, Williams formed Tessy Lou and the Shotgun Stars with Bryan Paugh (fiddle) and her dad, Kenny Williams (bass). The trio built a following around their home state, eventually moved to Austin, Texas, and were discovered by Warehouse Records at Poodie’s Roadhouse -- a fitting place for the stars to align for someone whose love of honky-tonks runs deep. The trio released two albums together.
With a lifetime of experience, almost a decade under her belt in the Austin music scene and a new project as a solo artist, one thing is unmistakably clear: lovers of country music should keep their eyes on Tessy Lou Williams. It’s in her blood, after all.