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Williams goes his own way, for now

Cafe 939, Boston, June 5, 2017

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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Zach Williams went back to roots - on his own. In his previous musical life - before he teamed up to form The Lone Bellow - he performed solo for a good half dozen years.

With fellow Bellow Kanene Pipkin two days overdue and the band waiting for its next CD to drop in September, Williams has hit the road a bit playing his first solo shows since forming the trio.

In an engaging set, Williams entertained with his own material and some songs from The Lone Bellow, including a few on the upcoming CD.

Williams may have set a record in hitting the stage after opener Caleb Clardy left (for the few songs heard, he made you want to see what happens when he releases his debut later this year). He's not the most straightforward going either as thea capella "The Plane" was about an ill-fated flight with the pilot telling the passengers the plane was going down. Not terribly uplifting, the song managed to have a sense of humor perhaps because it seemed too absurd to be real.

Armed with an acoustic guitar for the night, Williams was not afraid to get personal before the sold-out crowd of 200. For understandable reasons, Williams told a pin drop quiet story about how his wife broke her neck in a horse riding accident a year after they married, supposedly due to be a quadriplegic for life. That was not the end result (they now have four kids), fortunately, and Williams related how he felt for others who had it worse and for those who worked in the hospital to help his wife.

Williams put his emotions out there, his eyes welling up as he told the heart-wrenching story.

While there were serious moments, Williams knew how to keep it lighter in song and story, often engaging the crowd, even take questions a number of times in between songs. He even went back to his very first song, "Lions and Dragons."

The crowed responded, singing along at times, particularly the set closer, "The One You Shoulda Let Go" from The Lone Bellow. One missed the full body of The Lone Bellow performing together to better flesh out the songs, but stripping them down was the next best thing.

A few songs may have been a bit too much in similar tempo and style and Williams didn't always click vocally when he pushed it too much, but this was a night for Williams to kick back, have some fun, tell stories, engage with fans and do it his way musically - that is until The Lone Bellow resumes in September.