Hayley Williams played every instrument on her new album: "I haven't had this much time to play guitar since I was a teenager"

Hayley Williams Tiny Desk
(Image credit: Tiny Desk)

Hayley Williams recently sat down to take a deep dive into her new surprise solo outing, Flowers for Vases / Descansos, reflecting on the pride she feels for playing all instruments – including acoustic guitar and bass guitar – on the record.

In conversation with Zane Lowe on Apple Music, Williams revealed that she played all the instruments on the record herself for the first time, and that she has used the time during lockdown to play more guitar.

Whereas Williams recruited a number of musicians help record her previous album Petals for Armor – including the boygenius trio of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus for backing vocals – Flowers for Vases / descansos adopted a far more streamlined approach.

"I'm really, really proud that I played everything on it," she said. "And I'm also really, really proud that this album is what I have to show for surviving a year that was tough for everyone.

"I mean, I feel like I got better at guitar, which was cool. I haven't had this much time to play guitar since I was a teenager before we started touring, and that was also just really therapeutic."

When asked to elaborate on her experiences as a guitar player, Williams went on to say: "I'm not a super-confident player, I never have been. I tend to be kind of timid, and that has always been true, it still is true."

"Thank god I recorded most of these guitars direct, so there was just no room for loss there with tone!"

The multi-instrumentalist musician also spoke of the raw nature of her new emotionally charged album, saying it is "as good of a picture of heartbreak as I could do".

"I realized as I was untangling a lot of knots in myself that there are just so many ways that I learned how to love that we're not right. It is so raw and in-the-moment and it also is such a culmination of all the lessons I learnt throughout multiple relationships."

To listen the conversation in full, head over to Apple Music.

We recently caught a glimpse of the Paramore singer playing guitar during an NPR Tiny Desk (home) concert, in which Williams can be seen wielding a Ernie Ball Music Man Mariposa as she performs a number of stripped-back renditions of songs from Petals for Armor.

You can watch the performance below.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.