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Kelly Willis continues making superior country music

Jack's Sugar Shack, Hollywood, CA, Feb. 19, 2000

By Dan MacIntosh

HOLLYWOOD, CA - Just up the street, those Gothic rockers, The Cure, were making a rare small club appearance, filling the streets of Hollywood with even more ghost-faced youths than usual. This made Kelly Willis, with her sunny appearance, quite a contrast with that other concert on the block.

Willis, in a sleeveless print dress, may have appeared like a little ray of sunshine, but her hurting love songs were anything but a sunny delight. Songs such as Damon Bramblett's "Heaven Bound," for example, weren't exactly like a trip on any joyful gospel ship.

While drawing mostly from her critically acclaimed Rykodisc release "What I Deserve," Willis also sprinkled her set with plenty of songs from her pre-indie days, including her first single from back in 1990 called "I Don't Want To Love You, But I Do."

Willis' voice is a songwriter's best friend, and she was careful to give credit to the many great songwriters who have contributed to her recent albums. She reminisced about visiting Australia recently, and having the chance to sing "Cradle of Love" with its writer, Paul Kelly. She also proudly introduced "Got A Feeelin' For Ya" as a recent Dan Penn/Chuck Prophet composition.

Throughout, Willis strummed her trusty acoustic, and was helped out immensely by her multi-instrumental sidekick Amy Noelle Farris, who fiddled with great enthusiasm whenever she wasn't strumming hard on her mandolin.

Just when it seems like every other female country singer is reaching to land a pop song on some movie soundtrack or other, it's comforting to know that Willis is continuing to make superior country music by drawing upon songwriters who are not usually associated with country music.

Such an equation may not make obvious sense on the surface, but in this live setting, it's was as clear and bright as a sunshine-y day.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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