Produced by The Heliocentrics’ Malcolm Catto, who has produced Mulatu Astatke, Orlando Julius and the iconoclastic author/auteur/film producer/actor/musician Melvin van Peebles, and collaborated with Floating Points, Quantic, DJ Shadow and Madlib, Williams’ much-anticipated sophomore effort was recorded, mixed and mastered to tape at London’s Quatermass Studios, Williams’s highly-anticipated sophomore full-lenth effort Late Nights and Heartbreak will be released Stateside and elsewhere on Friday through Record Kicks Records. Interestingly enough the effort not only marks the first time Williams has worked with Catto, it also marks the first recorded effort with her new backing band, the Bristol, UK-based The Affirmations — and from the material I’ve heard off the album, the band 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) are not just an incredibly tight unit, but they can give the world-famous Daptone Records bands a run for their money.
The album’s first single “Tame in the Water” has Williams and The Affirmations pairing her incredibly soulful vocals with a tight and funky groove, shuffling drumming, twinkling keys, shimmering guitar chords and a bold horn line to create a sultry, mid-tempo torch song with a narrator, who has had enough of her lover’s shit and wants out, knowing that she deserved and still deserves much better — all while sounding as though it could have been released in 1964 or so. And in some way, the song nods a bit at Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man” but with a visceral sense of heartbreak that’s devastating.
The charmingly goofy music video follows the relationship between Williams and a anthropomorphic rabbit, who she discovers is a no-good, cheating, irresponsible lout, which follows the song’s narrative. And towards the end we see an extremely pissed Williams packing her stuff and calling a friend to give her a ride while her former lover gets sloshed — and then kicked out of a bar.
The album’s second single is an amazing, mind-blowing psychedelic soul rendition of “Dazed and Confused” that draws equally from the original version written by Jake Holmes, Led Zeppelin’s legendary cover and The Temptations’ “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” — but with a swaggering, self-assuredness. And from both singles a few things are apparent: Hannah Williams can fucking sing her heart out — and I can guarantee that you will be hearing about her and the Affirmations for quite some time; the chemistry and simpatico between Williams and the Affirmations is undeniable, as they’ve created some of the tightest and funkiest music of their young careers.