WITH EMILY HEARN
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Where: SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave., Evanston
Info: (847) 492-8860; www.evanstonspace.com
Updated: April 28, 2013 6:21AM
When Holly Williams says she could have put on a cowboy hat, called up a record company and been on her way to making a living as a country musician, she’s not bragging.
The Nashville, Tenn.-based singer-songwriter is simply acknowledging that with her musical pedigree — she’s the daughter of Hank Williams Jr. and granddaughter of country music icon Hank Williams — she probably could have taken a shortcut to success.
Instead, Williams started playing small clubs right out of high school and has been honing her formidable songwriting skills ever since. She independently released her third album, “The Highway,” on her own label, Georgiana Records, last month. It debuted at No. 18 on Billboard’s country albums chart.
“I’m assuming I could’ve called a record company and said, ‘Find me 10 hits,’ ” the 31-year-old said. “And there is nothing wrong with that, but that was not what was natural to me. I truly love playing my guitar and piano and writing stories.”
Williams wrote or co-wrote all the songs on her new album, which features Jackson Browne, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jakob Dylan and Dierks Bentley.
The singer, who performs Wednesday at SPACE in Evanston, talked about her new project.
Q. Your songs are often very introspective. Do they reflect your personality?
A. I’m the complete opposite of my lyrics. I think that I’m, you know, really outgoing. I love to throw fabulous dinner parties and drink a lot of wine and put on Jay-Z and dance on the table — not every night — but I definitely turn into something else when I am singing. And when family and friends heard [the new album], in the beginning they were kind of shocked by it. Like where is this coming from, these songs about love and loss and addiction and all the things that you go through as a person?
Q. What does your father think about the new album?
A. He’ll say things like, “Honey, I don’t know why you’re going to Europe for six months, I mean this economy, the music business is down.” And I’m like, “Dad, I’m gonna work my butt off, I want to keep playing. I’m doing it for the music and the love.” He’s 63 and, you know, is at his farm now and doesn’t have to rough it like I’m roughing it, but he’s supersupportive.
Q. I know from your blog, The Afternoon Off, that you like to cook. Is it true that you hunt for your meat?
A. We do get our own venison, yes. I grew up in that culture. ... You know these factory farms are obviously atrocious so I started deer hunting with my dad. He loves it. I make venison jerky and venison roast and venison hot dogs and venison chili and it’s a neat kind of barbaric feeling to get a hundred pounds of meat and have it for a whole family for a season. I feed everyone. I give them summer sausages, so I love it. I don’t like being in camo at 5 a.m. with my rifle in the miserable cold and bugs, but you know, it’s good food and I do eat meat and it’s a good way to get it.