Some days I just don’t know what I want to listen to, so I stick my I-Phone onto ‘random’ and let the fates decide ……. and after nearly ten minutes of pressing ‘next’ I stumbled on this album ……… Oooh ……Ooooh and thrice OOOH! Now a full day later I am totally smitten with New Yorker Billie Williams and her gritty, emotional and Soulful take on The Blues. In today’s crowded market it’s no longer good enough for a female singer to rely on her ‘pretty face’ and can ‘sing a bit’ to make a lasting mark; she has to be the whole package, singer, songwriter AND performer …… and right from the smouldering ‘break up’ song Damn which opens Ms William’s second release, it’s evident that she ticks every box there is …. and some more. Just like the best that there’s ever been, she doesn’t just sing the words, she inhabits the characters in her songs. Prime examples are the rolling barroom ballad Drink From My Cup and the piano led Cold November, which has a big theatrical feel to it as Billie drags us on an emotional roller-coaster for four long minutes. There’s a lot going on in these songs; and not just in the stories and lyrics……. Billie Williams has surrounded herself with some truly excellent musicians and backing singers; which when combined turn the darkly funklicious title track HELL TO PAY and Lost In The Wilderness into songs that transcend the Blues and even Soul as they much more than just that. I am obviously not the targeted demographic for Ten Million Sisters; but can really appreciate and admire the sentiment that this new Feminist Anthem portrays ……. and alongside Take These Dreams, which precedes it,t has more than a hint of something I’d expect to hear in ‘Woman the Musical,’ where such a thing to turn up on Broadway. While any of the songs I’ve already mentioned could be your Favourite Track; two in particular have had me coming back to listen ever more intently to Billie William’s detailed and articulate songwriting. You is one Helluva song, with a very danceable melody that masks an important message; while My Everything is a gorgeous Love Song that would have helped mend my regularly broken heart as a teenager had it been a 45 on Atlantic or Stax; which makes it shade the race for Favourite Song status. Unlike many Bluesy albums I get to hear, this isn’t always an ‘easy listen’; as Billie Williams draws on some very brave subjects to write about; but that’s exactly what we need these days …… ‘brave and courageous’ songwriters, especially female ones; and Billie Williams fills that void very well indeed.
Willie Jackson & The Tybee Blues Band
CHOSEN BY THE BLUES
Whatever Wins the 2018 Grammy for Blues Music Won’t be half as Raw, Honest or Cool
Confession time………Can you keep a secret? I often fantasise about of walking down a street somewhere and hearing Blues like this drifting from some sleazy saloon on the wrong side of town.
Phew……I never thought I’d tell anyone that.
There’s not a lot to know about Willie Jackson, he hails from Savannah, Georgia and has sung in choirs all of his life and in 2009 he had an accident that meant he had to quit his day job; and his only Plan B was music; The Blues and that is how he has supported his family ever since; playing everywhere and anywhere that would have him.
His live sets are obviously littered with covers of songs by the legends but he has always written his own songs; six of which are on this glorious EP.
Ooohheee……Just An Old Dog opens the record and Willie rips the joint apart without even a cursory warning! This saucy song; and most of what follows could have been written and played just about any time in the last 50 years; but thankfully Willie Jackson did write it and now it’s free to make people dance and grin al over the Blues World.
The band really squeeze the Soul out of I’ll Throw You Back and the red hot Why You Still Mad? Both of which sound like songs Howlin’ Wolf or John Lee Hooker would love to have recorded had they still been alive today.
Willie and his crew take a bit of a slow and sour left turn on Sleepin’ On The Job; but hey…….it offers some dark shade to the album as it sends a shiver down your spine.
Even after all of these years I’m amazed that songwriters can still find new and interesting ways to describe sleazy love affairs; and Willie Jackson manages that with straight A’s on the final song here Diggin’ My Shovel (In Your Sister’s Backyard). Obviously we shouldn’t condone such senseless behaviour; but it’s a helluva song!
Willie’s Classic Urban style goes down low and real dirty on the second song, Big Boned Woman. OK we all have a million songs on this subject in our collections but the rhythmic backbone provided by Jon Willis on bass and Paxton Eugene drums and Ace Anderson’s truly sorrowful harmonica playing neatly juxtaposes Dillon Young making his guitar gently weep; and the way Willie howls into the mic when he discovers the Big Boned Woman he is cheatin’ with has a ‘husband and a mansion on the other side of town’ easily makes this particular song the RMHQ Favourite here.
Yet again I can’t begin to tell you how exciting it is for me discover acts like Willie Jackson and present them to the Musical Universe and Beyond……..trust me; whatever wins the 2018 Grammy for Blues Music won’t be half as raw, honest or heartfelt as this EP is.
Buy it and keep the Blues Alive!