Quarantine has been a time where many artists have used their spare time to create and release new music. Hayley Williams, lead singer of popular rock band ‘Paramore’, announced the release of her second solo album Flowers for Vases/ descansos to fans on February 3rd and released on February 5th. Williams recorded and wrote all of the songs performed on her album during last year’s quarantine period in her Nashville home.
Fans were shocked at Williams’ album release announcement as she released her debut album, Petals for Armor, in early May of 2020. Flowers for Vases is the prequel to her debut album and is very raw, emotional and gives fans a look into William’s grief and growth since her divorce from ex-husband Chad Gilbert. In comparison with Williams’ groovy, funky debut album, Flowers for Vases has more acoustic elements and a darker tone to match the grief seen in the lyrics of the songs on the album.
The album starts with the song “First Thing to Go” which describes her life post-divorce, trying to let go of her past relationship and move on. Although the lyrics are fairly simple, I as the listener was able to feel a glimpse of the pain she must be going through the tone of her voice.
Williams then sings about the excruciating sadness she felt during her separation in the next songs “My Limb”, “Asystole”, and “Trigger”. “My Limb” has a much darker tone compared to the other songs on the album and describes how hard it is for her to cut people out of her life. I find this song relatable because when you love someone so much in any sort of relationship, it’s so difficult and heartbreaking to remove them from your life. The first line, “If you gotta amputate/Don’t give me the tourniquet”, describes how Williams was not willing to give up on her relationship so easily even though it was not going well. She wanted to hold on with every limb of her body with all of the strength she had left in her. Similarly, “Asystole” is a term used to describe the heart flat lining and Williams is using the term to describe how she was so heartbroken she was practically dead. Before I realized what the term asystole meant, I was already feeling emotional while hearing the song so when I discovered the meaning and connected the dots I felt heartbroken. The next track “Trigger” did not ease the pain whatsoever. “Trigger” is Williams reminiscing on her past relationships that were toxic and she realizes that she did not want to acknowledge the red flags of her relationships because of her longing to be loved. This song is definitely one of my top 5 favorites because it not only exudes so much emotion but it shows what people will go through in order to keep their version of what feeling loved is. At this point in listening to the album, I was already pulling out the tissues.
The next tracks of the album “Over Those Hills”, “Good Grief”, and “Wait On” describe Williams’ process of moving on from her past relationship but still thinking about it from time to time. “Over Those Hills” is Williams thinking about how her ex is doing post their relationship; she wonders if her exes still think of her, what their reality would be if they were still together, but then remembers why the relationship did not work which helps her take the next steps to move on. Williams shares her moving on experience on the next track “Good Grief”. At this point, Williams is ready to hear what her past lover has to say about their relationship in hopes that their words can give her closure. “Wait On” continues to show Williams’ process of moving on. Williams knows that life is going to move on faster than she is moving on from her relationship but she can’t help but remember the things she did to save her relationship. The line “There was a bird who never flew/But she still kept all of her feathers/So she could pluck ’em out for you,” is an example of Williams sacrificing parts of herself so her relationship and partner could continue, even at her dispense. Again, this is one of my favorite songs on the album because the lyrics made me think about situations in my life where I hid and sacrificed parts of myself to make others happy. I was also entranced by the acoustic guitar in the background which made the song even more enjoyable.
Flowers for Vases then leads to track 8, “KYRH” which stands for “Keep You Right Here” and is the transitioning the first part of the album to the second part.
In a recent interview with Apple Music interviewer Zane Lowe, Williams states that track 9 on Flowers for Vases called “Inordinary” is her favorite song. The song talks about Williams’ childhood experience of her and her mother running away to Nashville to escape her abusive stepfather. It was in Nashville that she met her bandmates, formed Paramore, and she started to see the beauty in ordinary things which ultimately changed her life. I enjoyed listening to this song because of how intimate it is and it made me feel more connected to Williams as a fan of her music. The following track, “HYD” which stands for “How You Doin?”, is a song describing a relationship with a person who was incapable of seeing the good in a situation. It seems as if someone in the relationship is trying to check up on the other person and help them but the other person does not want them to. I think the next track “No Use I Just Do” may be a continuation to the previous track because Williams is saying that no matter what she will love and support the other person in the relationship. It can also mean that love is so powerful that it is impossible to control it, so although Williams may be trying hard not to, she can’t help but love this person. Either way, I enjoyed listening to the song especially because I can hear the tone of Williams’ voice trying to push herself away from the feeling of running back to the person she loves.
Just as the track “No Use I Just Do” talks about loving someone unconditionally, the next track “Find Me Here” is Williams saying that she will always be there for the person she loves even through hard times and she hopes her partner will do the same. I love Williams’ soft vocals in this song and I wish it was longer to see what other lyrics could have been added. “Descansos” follows “Find Me Here” and is 2 minutes of pure instrumental. In Spanish, descansos is a conjugation of descansar which means “to rest”. This instrumental is peaceful and is maybe Williams’ way of saying that she is almost or at peace so she can finally rest.
Williams closes the album with the track “Just a Lover” which has a completely different tone compared to the other tracks on the album. This track brings back the rock sound that her audience is used to in a short 3 minutes. I think this song is talking about Paramore and how her relationship, before and after, caused a rift between the band. The lines “Once upon a time, when we were school kids/Mix CDs and carpool kids/Really hope we don’t wreck this” are about how when the band net as children they did everything together and she did not want to affect the bad in any way. In2017, Williams almost left Paramore and quit music because of the depression she went through after her divorce. I think this song is Williams’ way of saying that she is in a better place now and Paramore is not going anywhere. This song is one of my favorites because of my love for Paramore and I think this song shows the fans Williams’ growth as an artist and a person.
When I found out Williams was releasing an album I was ecstatic, but I was definitely not ready to be heartbroken in the process of listening. Flowers for Vases/ descansos is a very raw and intimate album that is different from past projects Williams has been a part of. I love listening to music that makes me feel and understand what the artist is feeling, Williams did exactly that in this project. As a fan, I felt like I was able to connect with Williams on a totally different level because I could not only feel the pain she was feeling but it also felt like she had gone into my soul and sung the things that I was feeling. My top 5 favorite songs on the album are “Asystole”, “Find Me Here”, “Wait On”, “Trigger”, and “Just a Lover”. Ultimately, I would rank this album a 8.5/10. I think it was beautifully written and produced so I will be having this album on repeat.