Review: Sam Williams charts his own path among famed family

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This cover image released by Mercury Nashville shows "Glasshouse Children" by Sam Williams. (Mercury Nashville via AP)
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“Glasshouse Children," Sam Williams (Mercury Nashville)

Sam Williams, the grandson of country music legend Hank Williams and the son of recording artist Hank Williams Jr., wastes no time on his debut album “Glasshouse Children” convincing the listener of one thing: He sounds nothing like his kin and he’s not trying to.

This is a good thing for Williams, as the handful of slow-paced reflective songs fit his own voice and vision nicely.

“Glasshouse Children” explores themes of happiness, despair and love, all well-worn territory for the genre but you’d be hard-pressed to pin more than two of these tracks as country music.

The strong songwriting on “Happy All The Time,” featuring Dolly Parton (yes, when you’re the son of Bocephus you can make that happen) is what allows Williams to invent himself. There’s a strain of sorrow as the duo softly sings about the ever elusive goal of happiness.

Despite the push for the title track to make the mark for Williams, the more standard country approach on “10-4” reveals that song as a gem. Williams shows more vocal range here, singing stronger with the quicker pace on this slick love song.

Will Williams enjoy the recording longevity of his father and grandfather? It’s hard to say. But it’s admirable that he’s charted his own course without leaning on their styles so heavily that it blurs the senses.

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Ron Harris is at https://www.twitter.com/Journorati