Picks and Pans Review: Well Traveled Love
If Stevie Nicks ever puts on a gingham dress and cowgirl boots and goes country, she might sound something like Willis.
A 21-year-old Virginian, Willis doesn't quite live up to her label's publicity, which says her voice "builds like a windblown fire, leap-frogging octaves and shimmering like an untended garden hose through a lush lawn of heartfelt sentiments."
But she does sing with a hearty, kinetic style that invites some rock influences to come in and set awhile. Discovered by producer Tony Brown, whose other finds include Steve Earle, Nanci Griffith and Lyle Lovett, Willis is young enough to get away with sounding both romance-obsessed and defiantly independent.
She, Brown and co-producer John Guess came up with an appropriate mix of seek-and-ye-shall-find-(if-you're-lucky) songs, including John Hiatt's "Drive South," "Looking for Someone Like You" (Paul Kennerley-Kevin Welch) and the title track, by Willis's drummer, Mas Palermo.
Willis, who started singing professionally at 16, has basically stuck with the guys what brung her. She profits from her mutual familiarity with Palermo, bassist W. Brad Fordham and guitarists David Murray (who comes admirably close to Albert Lee country) and Michael Hardwick, who provide the core of her musical background.
This match was made in the clubs of Austin, Texas. That's where Willis and her band got together and got themselves in prime shape for the situation they're now in, which is being totally ready to take their act on the road. (MCA)
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