Photography: Courtesy Shore Fire Media

Rising country star Alex Williams gives an acoustic performance of “Freak Flag” with all the energy and twang of his new album’s version.

Indiana boy Alex Williams has all the gifts that could have made him a country singer-songwriter star in the 1960s or ’70s, and maybe even could today: an ear for melody, a bold baritone voice, and a way with words. He can capture the bemused resignation of living in an age when headlines read like dystopian sci-fi, turn a cliché upside down, invent a wry turn of phrase, or come up with a whacked-out metaphor that somehow makes sense.

Better Than Myself, his August 11 debut LP, puts these abilities on full display with songs like the defiant, sarcastic “Freak Flag.”

“The verses are pretty absurd, and that’s the point of the song,” he says in a note from his publicist. “It’s pretty straightforward. Let your freak flag fly. Feel free to be strange — just be you.”

NPR describes the song as “an ambiguous kin to Kacey Musgraves’ live-and-let-live number ‘Follow Your Arrow,’” which sounds about right. While the album version’s steel guitar and vibrato-laden lead guitar give it a classic country vibe, we’ve got an exclusive performance video that puts the head-scratching yet sing-along-worthy words front and center. The video was shot and produced at Love Monkey Studios by Max Raymond, son of the album’s producer, three-time Grammy winner Julian Raymond. Check it out, and then give the album a listen on Spotify.

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