The biggest stars aren’t always the biggest talents and the biggest talents aren’t always the biggest stars. That’s just the unfair world we live in. That said, there are very few talents in this world like Tiffany Williams.
Simple. Period. End of story.
An amazing artist on par with the likes of Patty Loveless, Kim Richey or Mary Chapin Carpenter, Williams is a songbird with vocals that both soothe and stun. Add in her exemplary command of the English language as both a songwriter an award-winning short story author and you’ve got a star who resides in rare air.
Straddling the line between Americana, folk and traditional country minus the twang, her vocals may be the upfront star but it’s her songwriting that steals the show. That craftsmanship is on display in grand fashion on her newest song “If It Wasn’t,” which American Songwriter is proud to premiere ahead of its worldwide release. A duet with Jonathan Dean, the song tells the story of a couple where each feels abandoned by the other but can’t recognize the other feels the same way.
“Jonathan and I started co-writing over 8 years ago,” remembers Williams. “The first song we wrote together was actually a duet as well. It’s always fun to come together and blend our voices and perspectives. But the thing that’s really interesting about our collaborations is our attention to detail, particularly language. We’re both former English teachers, both from the Appalachian Mountains, and we often talk about nuances of meaning and particular linguistic features of the region. We actually met during graduate school at East Tennessee State University, where we were both working as tutors in the Writing and Communication Center. We didn’t write our first song together until a few years after that, though.”
As you might imagine given her education and journalistic background, Williams is meticulous in her lyric writing placing a high value on each and every word. That precision pays off in spades as the songstress knows the value of both the spoken word as well as the intentional spaces left in between.
“The way this comes through in the song is that every line was poured over, every word selected intentionally. It’s lyrically much more sparse than the songs we’ve written in the past, in part to create a more universal, single-note emotional resonance. But the words and repetition of phrases, I’m thinking particularly of the repetition and building of sentence structure in the chorus, were deliberate.
“For as exacting as we were with language, the song is really about misunderstanding or miscommunication. The couple in the narrative, each of them feels misled, even duped, and ultimately abandoned. They’re saying the same thing and indicting each other on the same charge but not really hearing each other.”
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