The gentle breaths, the warmth in her shaky voice, the poignant lyricism about loss that chills your bones. Hayley Williams’s new single, “Leave It Alone,” is an emotionally raw taste of her new era, focused on not necessarily death itself, but losing what you hold dear. She’s tasked with accepting this and turning her looming frown into a grin, but it’s hard. Listeners are left to contemplate their own sense of loss. How hard is it to continue walking when everything around you is falling down?
Williams’s voice creeps along as if she’s singing with her eyes closed in her room after blowing her nose red. She’s asking tough questions throughout an emotional venting session that she may not really want the answers to. “Don’t nobody tell me / That God don’t have a sense of humor / Because now that I want to live / Well, everybody around me is dying,” she sings aloud, with the kind of inflection that would be an incredulous chuckle if spoken instead. She embraces these harsh emotions with an open mind, going into detail about warding off thoughts of self-harm.
In this intense and emotional tune, she also takes the time to seemingly address her grandmother, who suffered from head trauma after falling down a flight of stairs. “You don’t remember my name somedays / Or that we’re related / It triggers my worry / Who else am I gonna lose before I am ready?” she croons dejectedly. Her conclusion comes in the last verse that’s both the most powerful and the most accepting. “If you know love / You best prepare to grieve / Let it enter your open heart and / Then prepare to let it leave.”
This concept of growth can also be found in the artistic video released alongside it, featuring Williams inside a cocoon breaking out of her shell. At the beginning of the video, she’s only able to move her eyes, presumably a metaphor for the restriction of her anxious feelings. As the song goes on, she gradually becomes looser, and by the end, she breaks her head out for her first real breath in ages.
“Leave It Alone” is set to appear on Williams’s forthcoming album, Petals for Armor that’s set to drop on May 8. The LP will also include the recently released single “Simmer,” about the power of rage.
Check out the slightly unnerving video for “Leave It Alone” above.