Review: Hayley Williams – Leave It Alone

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Hayley Williams' latest single continues the standard of beautiful and honest lyricism as she delves deeper into her worries.

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Just a week after debuting her solo project with tension-filled single ‘Simmer’, Paramore’s lead singer Hayley Williams eagerly invites us back for a sombre reflection on grief. Reminiscent of Radiohead and mewithoutYou, ‘Leave It Alone’ contains wandering guitar notes which trace a breathy voice, at times with apprehension. This shyness comes with no surprise, as Hayley Williams’ social media is filled with praise for those who collaborated on the projects and had even noted on Radio 1 that she feels uncomfortable seeing her name everywhere. Despite being part of one of the 21st-century’s biggest rock bands, Hayley Williams is evidently experiencing a new life away from comfort.

‘Leave It Alone’ opens with the realisation that with life comes death, with lyrics “‘Cause now that I want to live / well, everybody around me is dying / Now that I finally wanna live / the ones I love are dying”. These lyrics show a rephrasing of thoughts, from wanting to live to ‘finally’ wanting to live, and from ‘everybody’ dying to the ‘ones she loves’ dying. Hayley reiterates the rephrased that life and death mean more than throwaway statements – she has had a discovery about herself and has endured the death of loved ones.

Stylistically, the drums are sparse at times, ticking away in the background and serve as a reminder of time as she confesses “I can’t leave it alone” repeatedly. Loss is foregrounded in ‘Leave It Alone’ as she asks “Who else am I gonna lose before I am ready? / and who’s gonna lose me?” She knows these questions are not beneficial, as the thoughts are labelled as ‘bitter’ and ‘killer’ in the chorus, but as the title expresses – it can’t be left alone. These thoughts occupy her mind as they are the life she lives, and the drums beautifully and tentatively join up each thought.

This constant reminder of time bubbles away in anticipation similarly to its predecessor ‘Simmer’, which plays on the battle of rage and calm. Both singles are joined together by Hayley’s experimentation with voice which controls the tension and leads the music through an array of contradicting emotions. The way in which Hayley meanders in the softness of the first verse and cuts with the sharpness of the bridge contrasts with the pop-punk projection of Paramore, but the honest lyricism remains the same.

Hayley Williams has created huge anticipation with her upcoming album Petals For Armor, and this has rocketed it to new heights. ‘Leave It Alone’ brings us a wealth of subject matter that Williams had yet explored in her past musical endeavours and does so in a manner that is delivered humbly, honestly and most importantly, cathartic.

Hayley Williams’ ‘Leave It Alone’ is out now via Atlantic Recording Corporation.

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