The Little Willies – The Little Willies
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Well, well, well. No sooner do I proclaim Richard Julian’s latest to be utterly fantabulous than his other outfit â€” this here country-cover-lovin’ group, which also includes a certain well-known pianist/vocalist â€” pops up with its first release.
This falls squarely in “well-made toss-off” territory, to be certain, and if you have an extreme aversion to Bob Wills and/or Willie Nelson (hence the band’s name), steer clear. Those hoping for a collection of Jones-fronted, pleasantly lugubrious piano ballads will come away dissatisfied as well. If, on the other hand, you’re open to the sound of some well-honed NYC studio vets having fun covering some old favorites (and adding in a few solid originals), then The Little Willies will find a comfortable home in your collection.
Lead vocal duties are shared more or less evenly between Julian and Jones, but it’s when they duet â€” as on “Easy as the Rain” (download) â€” that the group really shines. They’re surprisingly faithful to, and adept with, the songs they’ve chosen; that being said, the group’s sound is so comfortably centered in Starbucks/Gap territory that it almost doesn’t matter. Most of the people who buy this CD are going to do it because they’re Norah Jones fans, or because they heard it over a latte â€” and that’s fine. It’s an enjoyable disc either way.
And really, after all, pretty much any record that makes good-natured fun of “Lou Reed” (download) is worth a few listens in my book.