William Prince spent a long time recording his debut album. By the time Earthly Days was released in 2015, Prince had lived a lot of life and was ready for the sort of instant stardom that would throw a lot of emerging singer-songwriters for a loop. A number of extraordinary things happened followed the release of Earthly Days: the song “Breathless” was a hit on the Billboard adult contemporary music charts, Prince won the Juno Award for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, and he toured the hell out of the record for several years, opening for artists like Neil Young. This extended tour gave him the opportunity to basically perfect his live set in a way many new artists don’t get to.
William has gone deeper and deeper and deeper with subsequent releases. He describes love and loss and self and community and fear and courage with universal appeal on 2020’s Reliever. He reinterprets the orthodoxy and aesthetics of his Christian upbringing through an indigenous lens on Gospel First Nation. He synthesizes varied traditions and flexes impressive vocal chops almost casually.
William’s new record, Stand In The Joy, comes out April 14th on Six Shooter Records, and it is a catchy, ambitious testimony about the power of love and hope. Talking about the album with William gave me the chance to ask him about his evolving spirituality, the tension between tradition and trendiness in roots music, how the loves of his life change how he shows up as a performer, what it’s like to work with superstar producer Dave Cobb, and what freedom looks like from a Peguis First Nations perspective.
Photo Credit: Danny Shumov