Friday, September 7, 2012

Bill Frisell - The Willies

Echoing his 1995 release, Nashville, Bill Frisell's The Willies revisits the auburn sounds of American roots music. Although he has dipped into folk music in prior efforts, these songs follow the traditional mode even more faithfully than any of his previous releases, with only minor shifts into his familiar dissonant explorations. Assisted by Danny Barnes (Bad Livers) on banjo and guitar and bassist Keith Lowe (Fiona Apple, Wayne Horvitz & Zony Mash), Frisell's quirky tonalities and sweeping soundscapes still pervade each track, but the disquieting surges found on releases like The Bill Frisell Quartet and Gone, Just Like a Train are relatively reigned in. This in no way means that The Willies sounds anything like Hot Rize or New Grass Revival -- it is most certainly a Bill Frisell album; dark and mysterious, eerily beautiful, richly textured and layered -- just sort of a kinder, gentler Bill Frisell album. Highlights include the banjo-driven Carter Family standard "Single Girl, Married Girl" and the group's stark rendition of "Sugar Baby," a song usually associated with the similarly haunting Dock Boggs. Anyone familiar with the guitarist's style will understand his choices in recording these timeworn love songs and murder ballads, and traditional folk aficionados will be intrigued to hear their old favorites in this new environment. - by Zac Johnson, AMG

Bill Frisell is a musical chameleon. Every album he makes seems to be so different than the last. "The Willies" is a wonderful album full of soulful guitar, bass, and banjo. I, personally, have 11 of Bill's albums, and this one is currently getting the heaviest rotation in the cd player. What I love about this album is not only the fact that it's bluegrass with dark overtones, but it's got a really amazing feel to it. It's a very cohesive album. In my opinion, there isn't a bad song on this album. I really love "Everybody Loves Everybody." That song alone is worth the price of the album. Some of my other favorites are "Blackberry Blossom," "Get Along," "Sittin' on Top of the World," and "John Hardy Was A Desperate Little Man." But as I said, the whole album is very good. The thing that attracts me to Bill Frisell's music is it's subtlety and dark, textural beauty. This is an album that a fan of jazz, bluegrass, or rock would enjoy. Yeah, there's nothing that gets your feet or body going, but so what! This album is strictly for open-minded music lovers. If you are a patient person then this album will be very rewarding, but if you think everything has to get your feet going, then you shouldn't even bother with this album or any other Frisell album for that matter. Another thing I want to point out is that Bill Frisell is not a shredder. He's more into the textural side of guitar playing like David Torn, Andy Summers, Steve Tibbets, and King Crimson's Robert Fripp. All of these guitar players have the technical ability, but they don't feel the need to show that side of their playing too often. This album should appeal to those already familiar with Bill's work or any person who has an ear for intricately arranged music. - by J. Rich,

Artist: Bill Frisell
Album: The Willies
Year: 2002
Label: Nonesuch
Runtime: 48:45

1.  Sittin' On Top of the World (Lonnie Chatmon/Walter Vinson) 3:11
2.  Cluck Old Hen (Traditional) 2:28
3.  Everybody Love Everybody (Bill Frisell) 2:55
4.  I Want to Go Home (Bill Frisell) 3:43
5.  Single Girl, Married Girl (A.P. Carter) 3:07
6.  Get Along (Bill Frisell) 3:28
7.  John Hardy Was a Desperate Little Man (A.P. Carter) 2:35
8.  Sugar Baby (Traditional) 2:59
9.  Blackberry Blossom (Traditional) 2:01
10.  If I Could I Surely Would (Bill Frisell) 3:02
11.  Cluck Old Hen reprise (Traditional) 3:55
12.  Cold Cold Heart (Hank Williams) 3:07
13.  I Know You Care (Bill Frisell) 2:55
14.  Goodnight Irene (Huddie Ledbetter/John A. Lomax) 2:36
15.  Big Shoe (Bill Frisell/Jimmy Hamilton) 2:23
16.  The Willies (Bill Frisell) 1:53
17.  Bonus (Bill Frisell) 2:21

Bill Frisell (Electric and Acoustic Guitar, Loops)
Danny Barnes (Banjo, Acoustic Guitar, Bass Harmonica and Pump Organ)
Keith Lowe (Bass)


  1. sounds like a wonderful listen- thanks for the opportunity to hear this.....

  2. Nice dreamy country-folk album, this is not jazz but it's cool as a background music to let one's thoughts fly. Thank you very much for sharing



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