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CD/LP/Track Review

Michelle Willson: Tryin' To Make A Little Love

By Published: August 1, 1999
It's the rare blues recording that's suffused with honest emotion. Michelle Willson really seems to pour out her soul on Tryin', particularly on the ballads.

Known mostly as a jump-blues singer, Willson also tackles cabaret-style jazz and slow graceful soul on this, her third release. Credit producer Scott Billington for surrounding Willson with a crack band of veteran musicians, most from New Orleans, including Johnny Vidacovich (drums) and James Singleton (bass) from Astral Project, and a fine three-man horn section. Willson's clear, emotive vocals and David Limina's jazzy piano really steal the show here.

Massachusetts native Willson has selected a fine collection of bluesy tunes, three of which she co-wrote. Best cuts includes a wistful song by Dan Penn ("I Guess You Didn't Love Me Enough"), a verbose digression in blues hipsterism ("Half Past The Blues"), a clearheaded ballad written by Penn and Spooner Oldham ("Life Rolls On"), a soulfully restrained Dr. John-Doc Pomus collaboration ("Responsibility") and a very moving cover of a Los Lobos tune ("Someday").

The remaining tracks deliver lusty blues (Joan Osborne's title track), gospel-inflected soul ("Each Day"), jump blues ("Ay La Bas," "Bring It Home To Me"), and jazzy R&B.

Most blues singers are posturing, but Michelle Willson really seems to feel what she sings. On Tryin' To Make A Little Love, she makes you feel it, too. Incidentally, this is one blues release that should also appeal to jazz fans.

Record Label: Bullseye Records

Style: Blues



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