Texan Zane Williams’ fourth album is a master class in precise songwriting. For the man who wrote Jason Michael Carroll’s hit, “Hurry Home,” Zane uses his first release since 2011’s Ride With Me to show off a diverse array of songwriting talents. From barroom Honky Tonks to the streets of Bakersfield, Zane covers a lot of ground while making a case that he’s no Overnight Success.
A past recipient of such prestigious honors as the Maxell Song of the Year award through the John Lennon Songwriting Contest (for “Hurry Home”), Zane is a fantastically adept songsmith. Overnight Success, which is available now, opens with the tongue-in-cheek title track that manages to salute Merle Haggard while also laying out the 10-step plan to stardom. Over a staunchly traditional rhythm section, Zane’s easy Texas drawl pulls a smile when describing the butterflies at a performer’s first gig; Step up to the mic and pray you remember the words.
Zane himself doesn’t seem to have any problem with words, however, as the 11 songs that make up Overnight Success are tight, pointed and complete. The rolling “Sure Felt Like Goodbye,” which walks a similar contemporary country meets neo-traditional line to Craig Campbell, expertly captures the moment when a relationship is over. On the tumbleweed twanger, “Tired Of Getting’ By,” treading water just doesn’t cut it while Zane describes his emotions with insightful lines such as, Like a cloud that’s filled with thunder but no rain to bring itself relief. Zane’s a natural songwriter and can seemingly do it in any style.
“Damned” is a Dwight Yoakam-inspired honky tonk romp with a fat, low Telecaster lead and pedal steel slice. Zane effortlessly uses classic country hallmarks including strong words about temptation and key changes for instrumental breaks to show a firm grip on the genre. Yet, he is also equally good writing in more contemporary styles like on the pulsing, “When You’ve Got A Woman,” which sounds like something you’d expect from David Nail. With exceptional production to produce a diverse rhythm section, Zane adds a touch of gospel to complement one of his most soulful deliveries. The Western-influenced “On A Good Day,” modern blues-tinged “Kissin’,” and Americana-flavored “The Simple Things” all reference topics that are common on country radio, yet Zane’s knack for a hook goes a long way to set himself apart. Sometimes it’s the melody through a chorus and other times it’s the instrumental intro that comes around again later, but the songs on Overnight Success are destined to keep running through listener’s heads.
Overnight Success is ripe with melody. “A Little Too Late” combines swirling fiddle/guitar harmonies with controlled pedal steel lines before ushering in Red Dirt dramatics. Zane illustrates a vocal patience that the song’s main character might need to take into account when wondering about a girl. The fragile “While I Was Away” laments the road when considering family, as Zane’s intimate vocal rises and falls to intertwine with a lonely fiddle.
Overnight Success is the work of a precise songwriter, one with a clear vision of what he wants each song to become. And with such diverse tools to his craft, Zane shows that his hard work and persistence make up more than just Overnight Success.
Key Tracks – “A Little Too Late,” “Damned,” “When You’ve Got A Woman,” “Overnight Success”