Album Review: Sam Williams - “Glasshouse Children”

The latest of Hank Williams’ grand children to ascend to the top of country, Sam Williams proves to be slightly different than the others.

To not talk about Sam Williams’ musical history is to ignore a big part of what informs the music featured on this, his debut album. Originally intended to be released independently (to seemingly avoid family comparisons), things changed when UMG Nashville came calling and offered Sam Williams the ability to release his record without needing to change who he is to fit any kind of preset goal in mind (that is except to release and support a potentially generational talent). The latest child of Hank Williams, Jr. to release an album, Sam Williams' ten-track debut, Glasshouse Children, is an unqualified success.

Songs like “Can’t Fool Your Own Blood” and "Glasshouse Children" are informed of his family dynamics. The former is also about letting go of the trauma and demons of the past and moving on, even if it’s hard to part from something so imbedded within your being. The honesty of the lyrics in “Blood” are repeated throughout the album include “If Money Could Buy Happiness,” a song where a Troubadour like vocal from Williams has echoes of his grandfather while the harmony vocals of Dolly Parton help give the song melodic gravitas.

The family’s history with the bottle is showcased on many of these songs, Including “Can’t Fool Your Own Blood” and, of course }”Bulleit Blues,” songs which showcase that Williams has to deal with those demons on both sides of his family.

There are moments of potential mainstream country hits on songs like “10-4” and “Kids,” a song featuring Keith Urban, but even these songs suggest more than beer, blue jeans, and pick up trucks so often found in the mainstream. Instead, they’re singularly unique songs well-written and featuring strong melodies. These qualities permeate the entire album including “Hopeless Romanticism” and “Shuteye.” The album closes with the agonizing “The World: Alone,” a song which was originally formed out of a relationship but it took on new meaning when his sister was tragically killed in a car accident in 2020.

Everything about Sam Williams has presented on Glasshouse Children suggests the arrival of a fully-formed superstar in waiting. He makes music that hits you in the heart, the gut, the mind and everywhere else in between. Glasshouse Children isn’t always an easy listen but that’s the beauty of music. It’s meant to be listened to and while it would’ve been easy to dismiss Sam Williams as just another slice off of the nepotism pie, he isn’t that. He’s singularly his own artist with echoes of his rich family history and not the other way around.  is one of 2021’s best albums.