Kelly Willis

Easy

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Austin, TX, sure has it good -- a lot of amazing musicians are calling it home: Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, and the Dixie Chicks, to name a few. Add Kelly Willis to the list, because with Easy she has earned, or at least kept, her place in amazing-ville. Funny thing is, Willis is almost the perfect synthesis of the above-mentioned artists. She has a tender, romantic way in her songcrafting not at all unlike Colvin. Her voice has an rich, expressive ache, as does Griffin's. And she incorporates the best of country and bluegrass music into her own sonic foundry à la the Dixie Chicks (it certainly doesn't hurt much that she and Dixie Chick Emily Robison are sisters-in-law via the Robison brothers, Bruce and Charlie). With Easy, Willis offers up a half-dozen original compositions and a few very tasteful covers that are, well, easy -- easy on the ear, easy on the heart, easy on the mind. She's one of those gals who can say she was country when country wasn't cool, if only for her dignified and much-appreciated adherence to a real, organic, rooted sound that's as much Americana as anything else. This framework suits her well. The record would have been great without them, but it should also be noted that some very talented folks contributed a little something along the way. Alison Krauss, Chris Thile, Vince Gill, Dan Tyminski, and Ian McLagan all get a tip of the hat on this one, too.

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