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"WILD YEARS-THE MUSIC & MYTH OF TOM WAITS" BY JAY S. JACOBS

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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Record Reviews > The Little Willies

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The Little Willies-The Little Willies (Milking Bull/EMI)

The Little Willies aren't just a side project for country-jazz-pop chanteuse Norah Jones and her boyfriend/collaborator Lee Alexander with a bunch of New York muso buddies like Richard Julian, Jim Campilongo and Dan Reiser.  They are a legitimate band, a group of separate and equal pub performers who have been gigging at the Living Room in NYC for a few years, doing loose bar band rock versions of some of their favorite old school country.  The fact that one of the band members has sold about 10 million CDs is not a consideration at all.

That said, Jones is the ace in the hole for this album.  Her love of country (a little overshadowed in her megasmash debut album Come Away With Me but on ample display on the followup Feels Like Home) is front and center here as classics by Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Tompall Glaser and some fun originals are given loose workouts.  She generously shares vocals with Julian, who is perfectly good here but slightly overshadowed by his talented partner.

Jones' vocals on Alexander's "Roll On" are sweet and soothing -- oddly she sounds sort of like a more laid back version of Maria McKee on this superlative song.  She smolders through a cover of Nelson's "Nightlife" and soars on the old school country lament of Leiber and Stoller's "Love Me."

Honestly, The Little Willies will not sell a fraction of the copies that Come Away With Me did, but it's nice that Norah and her friends don't give a damn about that.  They're willing to just have fun and that spirit is infectious.  (3/06)

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright 2006 PopEntertainment.com All rights reserved.  Posted: March 3, 2006.

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Copyright 2006 PopEntertainment.com All rights reserved.  Posted: March 3, 2006.