“I grew up on 80’s hair metal,” Alex Williams says with a laugh. “My dad listened to Cinderella and Ratt, so that was my musical upbringing until I was about 16. That’s when my grandparents played me Dreaming My Dreams by Waylon Jennings and Red Headed Stranger by Willie Nelson.”
It would be hard to overstate the importance of those records on Alex Williams’ life. After hearing them, he traded in his electric guitar for an acoustic, dove deep into classic country music, and, most importantly, began writing his own songs. Roughly a decade later, Williams is releasing his debut album, Better Than Myself, and much like Willie and Waylon, he’s doing it on his own terms. “It seems like there’s a lot of people out there just trying to get through the day,” reﬂects Williams. “They’re working a job they don’t love or following somebody else’s dreams just because it’s safe and it keeps them comfortable. I didn’t want to be like that.”
Better Than Myself is a distant cry from the sugary pop hybrids currently dominating country radio airwaves, and as far as Williams is concerned, that’s a good thing. He’s part of a new breed of upstart outsiders, writing music that at once sounds both modern and traditional, channeling the raw, authentic sound that’s made stars out of outlaw singers and red dirt rockers. His live show is a force to be reckoned with, earning him dates with everyone from Lynyrd Skynyrd to Hank Williams, Jr., but he’s equally at home in the studio. Fat, twangy guitar tones, honky-tonk pianos, and swirling pedal steel lay the framework for Williams’ blend of vintage country and southern rock, and his lived-in baritone breathes genuine life and depth into his based-on-a-true-story brand of songwriting.
“This record represents the last ten years of my life,” says Williams. “My thoughts, my feelings, everything that I’ve been through, it’s all in these songs. It’s what I’ve wanted to say for a decade.” Williams was born just outside Indianapolis, in the small town of Pendleton, IN. After graduating from high school, he relocated to Nashville for a short-lived stint at Belmont University, but he quickly dropped out after realizing he could learn more about life by hitting the road and experiencing it than he ever could in a classroom.
“I played some in Nashville and did the Broadway thing, and I played locally around Indiana some, too, but my ﬁrst real gigs were in Texas,” remembers Williams. “I went down there because my cousin owned this shrimper bar on the Gulf coast where I could play. That was a big part of what got me so into Texas and all those Texas songwriters like Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker, and Billy Joe Shaver.” Williams had a band with some of his former college classmates, and by the time he was ready to make the leap and go solo, buzz about the group had caught the ear of Big Machine Label Group’s Julian Raymond. While Big Machine might be best known as home to crossover stars like Taylor Swift, Raymond’s illustrious pedigree as a GRAMMY-winning songwriter and producer included work with old school greats like Glen Campbell and Hank Williams Jr., and he sensed something special in Williams.
“I was worried,” remembers Williams. “I was 25, leaving this band, and I had no idea where my career was going to go, but Julian gave me a chance. He invited me to come by and start recording demos of my songs, and we probably ended up doing 50 or 60 of them. We kept slimming it down, but I kept writing.” When it was time to head into the studio for proper recording sessions, Williams and Raymond pieced together an all-star band featuring some of Nashville’s ﬁnest musicians: drummer Victor Indrizzo (Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris), keyboard player Matt Rollings (Lyle Lovett, Mark Knopﬂer), bassist Joeie Canaday (Leann Rimes, Steven Curtis Chapman), pedal steel player Dan Dugmore (James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt), and guitarists Tom Bukovac (Don Henley, Stevie Nicks) and J.T. Corenﬂos (Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson).
Angel is a very gifted singer and songwriter. She writes all of her own songs from her life experiences and relationships. Angel recently went to Nashville to record her first album, Gravel Road, and is now working on an EP. Angel has played at Tootsies in Nashville as well as the Blue Bird café. Angel has been compared to Jewel, Taylor Swift and Hillary Scott from Lady Antebellum. Angel gives credit to her mom for sparking her interest in music. Growing up, Angel would watch her mom sing in her band which inspired her to be a musician. Angel began writing songs at the age of 15 after learning how to play guitar. Angel has been influenced by artists such as Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum and the Cranberries.