A Manchester based singer-songwriter who moulds the classic songwriting sound of Paul Simon with the laid back nature of Jack Johnson, Ben Williams is a difficult artist to pigeonhole and is all the better for it. His new self-produced album, ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, has been seven years in the making, as Williams – earning a living as an in-demand session guitarist – wrote his own songs in the spare time he had between playing and recording with other artists.
With a clear passion for music, he wrote something like 60 songs over this period, of which the best 11 have been chosen to make up his debut album. Self-produced and featuring a selection of the finest musicians in Manchester, Williams has delivered a genuine gem of a debut. Often quirky, sometimes funny, and occasionally more reflective, the songs demonstrate a fantastic range of approaches and ideas.
Title track ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ was described by radio presenter Liam Bradford (BBC Radio Manchester) as his “favourite song of the year so far”, and it’s not hard to see why:
Having started as a busker, Ben Williams’ rise to prominence in the music industry has been truly impressive. As a session guitarist he has supported a who’s who of British talent, including Mick Hucknall, Lisa Stansfield, Will Young, Status Quo, Nile Rodgers and Chic, The Straits, M-People, Tim Minchin, Pink Martini. Meanwhile, playing his own material he has shared a stage with Baskery, Kristyna Myles Jon Kenzie.
Grammy award winning producer Ken Nelson (Coldplay, Paulo Nutini), who knows a great musician when he sees one, describes him as “an excellent guitarist and great to have around on a recording session”, while drummer and producer Steve White (Paul Weller, Style Council, Oasis) called him “great guitarist and top musician”. These are professionals who gained a position in the industry by being able to identify talent, and they see it in Ben Williams.
Having had a taste of success playing with other artists at South By South West festival in Texas as well as festivals in Italy, tours of France, and UK gigs at the Liverpool Echo arena, Indigo2 and Bridgewater Hall, Ben Williams is hungry to take his very own bit of the cherry.
And finally, if you were in any doubt as to how passionate Williams is about his songwriting, he also runs his own blog about songwriting – http://www.songwriterstalkaboutsongwriting.com/. Having interviewed people like Dan Wilson (co-writer of Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’), Ron Sexsmith, Chris Difford, Frank Turner and more, this is one songwriter who is keen to keep honing and learning his craft.
In the meantime, the new album drops on April 13th and is as impressive a debut as you’ll hear this year.