The country soul crooner “Can’t Tell the Difference Anymore,” from Dirty Camaro, Zachary Williams’ debut solo album, showcases Williams’ ability to move with ease across a range of sonic landscapes — from country to soul to gospel. The song opens languidly with strains of steel guitar and strings, blossoming into choruses on which Anderson East and John Paul White join Williams in a chorus that would be at home in a church or a bar. Gospel piano chords flow into a mournful steel guitar on the instrumental bridge, elevating the sad beauty of the song. This single song, halfway into the album, perfectly reflects Williams’ command of a breadth of musical styles, and other songs on Dirty Camaro further showcase that range.
The Billy Joel-esque lounge song “Airplane” flows on producer Robert Ellis’ ascending piano, rising dreamlike before crashing in a crescendo of reality, while the circling guitars of the joyous ballad “Anything” frames an ode to Williams’ wife, Stacy. Led Zeppelin’s “Tangerine” meets Buffalo Springfield’s “Mr. Soul” on “Game for Guessing,” with its unspooling steel guitars, and featuring East’s vocals. The title track flies down a rock and roll straightaway reminiscent of Tom Petty. Ashley Monroe lends her vocals to “Her Picture,” a slow burning country soul stirrer of scorned love, floating over B3 and sax, with a Memphis-style chorus and barroom piano. The album closes with the gospel mover “Road Over That Mountain,” to which the gospel singers The Settles Connection lend their ethereal vocals.
On Dirty Camaro, Zachary Williams dwells in his songs, draining every emotion from each note, and belting out or caressing the music with the calculated finesse of Sinatra, the snarling pitch of Robert Plant, the soul-gripping tones of Sam Cooke, and the composed demureness of Hank Williams.