Making her stage debut in April 2019 and selling out her first headline show at London’s prestigious Southbank Centre less than a year later, A.A. Williams hit the ground running. Similarly, the acclaim for her performances and her music has been unanimous from the start. After one self-titled EP and a collaboration with Japanese post-rockers MONO, the London-based singer-songwriter signed to Bella Union and released her stunning debut album, Forever Blue, in July 2020.
That Southbank show would prove to be the last time she would take to the stage for a long while as the world struggled to cope with unforeseen and extreme challenges. Never a musician to sit still, the classically trained multi-instrumentalist focused her creativity on arranging - firstly, by stripping songs back to the most delicate bones on her Songs from Isolation covers record, and now with a complete reimagining of her own material as the four songs from her debut EP become arco.
Not many musicians have the ability - or indeed bravery - to rework a collection of their own full band 'rock' songs into a string-and-voice arrangement. A.A. Williams, however, is not like many musicians and the minimalism of Arvo Pärt and Gorecki has long since sat beside Vaughan Williams' folk-inspired classical work as important influences on her music. Indeed, the intention with the EP was for Williams to challenge herself by not retaining guitars and drums, meaning arco had to be truly reimagined with a full string ensemble. As Williams describes it: “The main focus of the arrangements is trying to maintain the authenticity of the original songs that, whilst embodying some of the more familiar elements of the full-band settings, draws focus on the voice."
Conducting the ensemble of string musicians in the studio, A.A. Williams has evolved her own compositions with new instrumentation and arrangements, encapsulating the singular vision of a unique artist.
Finally got on the ERR train, and boy, glad I did. It carries the strange and melancholy spirit that I crave in my eternal fix of heavy music, but it devastates while being the sonic opposite: dead quiet, with every rasp of fingers on strings or movement of the mouth cutting like a blade. ERR just bummed me the hell out in the most thoughtful way possible. A channeling of the overcast sky outside my window. Excited to see you at FITM, ERR! pinkytheent
Darkhorse is an absolutely amazing song. The instrumentals are so beautiful. And your voice just pierces my soul so deep. I've been listening to the lost highways version for maybe a year, and I didn't realize it for a while, but Emma is easily in my top most very favorite newer music. I live in a little mountain town in Idaho, perhaps no one else here has heard you. But you have a huge fan in me. That includes everything I've heard, from acoustic to doom metal. Thank you soooo much <3 brenthutchinson