Times as troubling as the present need a soundtrack that fits the hugeness of all the emotions we’re all navigating; songs that reach deep down into your soul and lift you up when the weight of the world gets too much. The powerful poetic songs of the Welsh singer songwriter William Poyer are the sort that can save you when you need saving the most.
Inspired by the music of Ryan Adams, Ray LaMontagne, Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell, Poyer’s songwriting hits that sweet spot between emotional and anthemic, as he jacks up his intimate and introspective folk with giant melodic hooks and soaring vocals.
Poyer’s musical journey began when he left his native Wales in 2013, looking to hone a sound that felt unique and true to both his upbringing and his penchant for widescreen Americana. Three years of living in Mexico helped him find the sound he had been searching for, and it all came together on his debut album, Born Lucky, in 2016.
A string of singles over the last few years were signs of what was to come, as Poyer built upon the sparse country-rock infused sound of his early songs. Now, six years on from Born Lucky, he makes a timely return with five new songs on the brilliant Forgiven EP.
From the epic thump of the title track to the delicate blues of ‘The Eagle’ or the haunting Americana of ‘Vincent’s Song’, the songs are gloriously melodic with a restrained melodrama that reveals Poyer as a vivid storyteller and a soulful, versatile singer; his voice able to switch from the tender sung-spoken delivery of its quieter moments up to a belting near-shout at a finger click.
Holler spoke to him about his influences and what inspired the new EP.
Where are you from and how has that influenced you?
I'm from Swansea in South Wales. The Welsh are a poetic nation but a predominantly working class one too. We celebrate music and poetry and love to tell stories. I think there is an authenticity to art created in small rural towns. It's not been created for fashion or plaudits, it's pure and real. How can that not be inspiring?
What did you grow up listening to?
I loved grunge music as a teenager. Alice in Chains were my favourite band and their album Jar of Flies was a real moment for me. This was also when I started to love acoustic music too, as a result of the MTV unplugged sessions.
What inspired you musically on the Forgiven EP?
Probably a combination of some contemporary American musicians. People like Jason Isbell, Brent Cobb, Tyler Childers and Chris Stapleton. They've all written great songs and manage to find the right instrumentation to best compliment them.
Where did you record the EP and what was the process like?
I recorded the EP at Mill Town studios, the home of the band Ferris & Sylvester. I've been friends with them for a while and when the opportunity came to make a record there, I jumped at the chance. It's out in the English countryside and there are no distractions. It was a collaborative process. We experimented with ideas, sounds and I really trusted them. It was beautiful to see the songs grow from what were my initial ideas into these fully formed tracks.
What are your biggest literary influences?
I love Hemingway, and I love Gabriel Garcia Marquez - especially his short stories. Incredibly different, but both so unique in their description.
Can you tell us about the video for ‘The Eagle’?
It was made by my good friend and artist Jackson Pope. And what an amazing job he did too! Jackson identified the meaning of the song and its themes, and went on to create this collage of moving images and performance. Animation takes so long, but he was dedicated and delivered a beautiful captivating video which I am incredibly proud of.
What does it feel like the day that a song or an album of yours comes out and everyone gets to hear it for the first time?
Relief! Ha. But really, the process from writing a song to releasing it can take a very long time. Some people may be nervous about how their new music is received but for me I am thrilled to finally share it.
Which song are you most excited about people hearing on the new EP?
It changes. But currently, 'The Eagle' is my favourite. I think we did a good job of conveying the meaning of the song, I like the delivery and I love the instrumentation.
What’s next for you?
Well once the EP comes out on March 8th I'll shift my focus to live shows for the remainder of the year. We have some exciting shows coming up soon and I'm hoping the rest of the year will be equally exciting. And who knows, maybe I'll start recording some new music before the year is out.
The Forgiven EP is out March 8th via Spiritual Records. His tour continues, with a headline show in London at The Slaughtered Lamb on March 17th.