Little Willies The Little Willies

Little Willies The Little Willies
It’s easy to use a name this self-deprecating when there’s a multi-platinum artist like Norah Jones in the line-up, but this semi-supergroup really chose it to pay tribute to the songs they cover on this debut disc, most made famous by Willie Nelson, Hank Williams and Bob Wills. In fact, the Willies have been at this for several years, having held down a regular house gig in New York during that time, and their command of the material shows in the performances. After coming out swinging with the Wills classic "Roly Poly,” things settle into a lively Band-like groove, with Jones and guitarist Richard Julian trading off lead vocals. Her version of Elvis’s "Love Me” is particularly heart-melting, but the real magic is in the dynamic group interplay, which make Jones’s own recordings sound stiff by comparison. Lead guitarist Jim Campilongo asserts himself most throughout, with unusually stinging solos. And while it’s hard to go wrong with songs as perfect as Townes Van Zandt’s "No Place to Fall,” and Tompall Glaser’s "Streets Of Baltimore,” the Willies allow themselves enough space to let their individual musical personalities shine through. This also allows for a handful of originals to fit seamlessly into the proceedings, the most amusing of which is "Lou Reed,” a hallucinatory tale of the punk icon tipping cows in Texas. It’s a fitting coda for an album that plays like the soundtrack to a perfect night out. (EMI)