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If you ask California-based singer/songwriter Kyle Williams to describe his music, he'll most likely give you three fairly normal adjectives: "acoustic," "soul," and "pop." However, the music Williams creates is anything but normal. His songs are as diverse, layered, and complex as his personal story, his influences, and his vision for making music.
Exposed from an early age to the likes of The Temptations, James Taylor, Carol King, Simon & Garfunkel, and The Carpenters, Williams was developed a love for music, as well as a melodic and soulful sweetness—both of which he and his sound carry to this day. This attraction to melody and soul found its initial expression in the drums, his first instrument, which Williams began learning in his mid-teens. Soon after, he picked up the guitar and was mentored by a friend as he developed his craft on the six-string.
As his confidence grew, and after getting a few honestly self-labeled "crappy" songs under his belt, Williams began to blossom both musically and lyrically, thanks in part to a growing list of fresh and varied influences, including Norah Jones, Jack Johnson, Frank Sinatra, Nickel Creek, and Van Morrison.
In early 2009, Williams released Shades of Grey, a five-song demo showcasing his talent for penning genuine lyrics backed by accessible and groovy tunes. Shades of Grey was received well in Williams' native Chico, California, provoking one local reviewer to write, "Once the CD starts spinning, the crafty, soulful pop songs rise above Chico garage-band status, to a place where they could almost hold their own in a CD shuffler with the likes of Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz."
Since Shades of Grey, Williams has continued to evolve, pushing his sound and musical vision nearer to those of The Weepies, Damien Rice, Eva Cassidy, Brett Dennen, and Allison Krauss, whom he considers among his current influences. Though this growth has taken him into the world of folk, Williams has not strayed from his roots of sweet and melodic pop. Proof of this includes his surprisingly unique acoustic covers of two hits by The Temptations: "My Girl" and "Just My Imagination." One reason for this rootedness is, perhaps, his love for the smooth and soulful simplicity of Amos Lee, one of Williams' most significant musical heroes.
Williams has hit the pavement over the years to share his music up and down the West Coast, with venues ranging from Seattle to San Diego and everywhere in between, including San Francisco, Portland, Santa Barbara, Hollywood, Santa Cruz, Eugene, Monterey, and Sacramento. Supported by loyal fans, he plays often at local eateries, coffee shops, wine lounges, bars, casinos, and private shows.
Now a full-fledged singer/songwriter in his own right, Williams continues to craft songs whose lyrics humanly and vulnerably explore themes of love and life, and whose sound mesmerizes, impresses, and catches you tapping your toes to the rhythm. The songs he shares offer his listeners honesty and hope in a fractured world characterized by deceit and despair.
Of course, you could still use "acoustic," "soul," and "pop" to describe the music of Kyle Williams, but that certainly wouldn't be the whole story.