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Willie May - Nights Of Luna

Self Release


Anyone who can write a lyric like “My baby’s got frog legs and it tastes like chicken to me” is definitely A-OK in my book. This is the kind of record that does this reviewer’s heart good. I live for this stuff. It’s not about hot guitar solos or other virtuoso shenanigans; it’s about the song and the feel. Willie has that kind of road-weary quality in his voice that is warm like your crazy uncle that visits you and Aunt Bee in Mayberry. I mean that in a good way. The music here has a sort of sloppy perfection to it. It recalls the music of Professor Longhair, although there isn’t a piano in sight. The kicker is that this guy is from Buffalo, New York. Who knew?

Willie’s pleasant sandpaper pipes grace the old Nawlins’ R&B groove found on “Tell Me Baby”. It sounds like a tune that could be found on a compilation of Crescent City classics. The horns sound like were lifted from an old Clarence “Frogman” Henry or Professor Longhair chestnut. “My Big Rita” carries along with a similar atmosphere. The aforementioned “Frog Legs” could come from that time as well. It’s a rushed, fast boogie that just zooms past in all its glory. It’s done in the vein of one of those crazy old New Orleans ditties. That voice fits snuggly into the country-blues shuffle that is ”Love That’s True”. It also benefits from the harmonica skills of Mike Silver. Some nice country-rockabilly guitar is provided courtesy of Paul Iannello on the self-explanatory “Plenty Of Problems”.

“By Degrees” is a classic slow, simmering blues along the lines of “Somebody Loan Me A Dime”. Reggae-meets-roots on the lazy island groove of “Today’s The Day” that is full of kalimba (African thumb piano) and percussion. Robin Mayer’s otherworldly vocals play cat-and-mouse with Mike Silver’s harmonica. On first listen I thought her background vocal was a horn or synth, it’s that pretty. A yearning for better days is the focus on “Go Back Home”, with only Willie on vocal and ukulele accompaniment. It doesn’t sound hokey or Don Ho-ish, it really works just fine. The narrator’s girl gets around on “I Gotta Girl”, a tune that has good organ-guitar-harp interplay. “Plastic People” creeps in ala a crunchy Steppenwolf song that soon becomes a psychedelic-boogie worthy of Bob “The Bear” Hite and Canned Heat.

What a fine stew this is- blues, roots, New Orleans R&B and a dash of world music influence. This works on the level of spending time with an old “rough-around-the-edges” friend. One gets the sense that these guys have lived and know life and it seeped into their music through osmosis. It sounds like it was always there. Old souls making new music. We can all use more of what this band can supply.

Reviewer Greg “Bluesdog” Szalony hails from the New Jersey Delta.

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