Live Concert Photography: Hannah Williams and the Affirmations with Honeysuckle at Brooklyn Bowl 7/29/18
Over the past couple of years I’ve written a bit about the Bristol, UK-born and based singer/songwriter and soul artist Hannah Williams, and as you may recall Williams can trace the origins of her musical career to growing up in an extremely musical household — her father was a musician and minister at the local church. Williams learned how to read music before she could actually read words, and as the story goes, when she was a girl, her mother recognized that she had some talent and allowed Williams to join the church choir when she was 6.
With the release of her breakthrough single “Work It Out,” off 2012’s full-length debut Hill of Feathers the Bristol-born, London-based singer/songwriter and soul artist emerged into the national and international scenes, as the single received attention across the blogosphere and airplay on radio stations across the US, Australia and the European Union; in fact, at one point “Work It Out” was one of the most downloaded songs in Greece, and the video has amassed well over 1.5 million plays on YouTube. Adding to a growing profile, Williams has played sets across the European festival circuit including Shambala Festival, Valley Fest, Wilderness Festival, Cambridge Jazz Festival and Larmer Tree Festival, as well as some of Europe’s most renowned clubs, including Hamburg, Germany‘s Mojo; Manchester, UK’s Band on the Wall; Camden, UK‘s Jazz Cafe and others with the likes of Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, Cat Power, and Charles Bradley.
Williams’ 2016 Michael Cotto-produced sophomore album Late Nights and Heartbreak marked the first time Williams worked with Cotto and the first recorded output with her newest backing band, the Bristol-based soul unit, The Affirmations, comprised of James Graham (organ, piano and Wurlitzer), Adam Holgate (guitar), Adam Newton (bass), Jai Widdowson-Jones (drums), Nicholas Malcolm (trumper), Liam Treasure (trombone), Victoria Klewin (baritone saxophone) and Hannah Nicholson (backing vocals) — and the album which featured the Dusty Springfield-like torch song “Tame in the Water” and the psychedelic soul-tinged edition of “Dazed and Confused” that seemed to draw from the Jake Holmes original, Led Zeppelin’s legendary cover and The Temptations’ “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” was my favorite album that year.
Last year, Williams and her Affirmations received even greater international attention after hit-making producer NO I.D. sampled the heart aching hook of “Late Nights and Heartbreak” for Jay-Z‘s “4:44” which gives the song a deeply personal view of its narrator’s insecurities and fears. As a result of the attention they’ve received from Jay-Z’s single, the London-based soul act recently made their Stateside debut with two live dates here in the New York metropolitan area, including last Sunday at Brooklyn Bowl, a set that included the aforementioned “Tame in the Water,” “Dazed and Confused” and one of my favorite songs on the entire album, “Still in My Head,” as well as an array of material that will make an appearance on Williams’ highly-anticipated third full-length album.
Opening the night was the Boston-based folk act Honeysuckle. Comprised of Holly McGarry, Chris “Gooch” Bleniarz and Benjamin Burns, the Boston-based folk trio specialize in a progressive and forward-thinking folk sound that meshes traditional folk instrumentation and influences — i.e., guitar, banjo, vocals, bass centered around storytelling-based lyricism — with subtly modern production and effects.