ALBUM REVIEW: Willie Jones – ‘Right Now’

LifeInASong_UK

Willie Jones is one of the rising starts in contemporary country music, whose fun single ‘Bachelorettes on Broadway’ has gained over 15 million streams to date. His blend of hip-hop and country-soul has helped him to develop a growing fanbase both in the UK and across the pond. Now, the Louisiana native and former The Voice contestant is keen to build on his success further with the release of his debut album, ‘Right Now’.

The album is incredibly high-energy, and really captures the party essence of both country music and hip-hop. It packs a big punch. As divisive as the album will be in terms of its sound and genre, there’s no denying the infectiousness of Jones’ output. In this collection of songs, Jones also delves into his own experiences as a black artist in the country music scene to give a unique songwriting perspective.

Jones is inspired by a plethora of genres, as evidenced on the opening song ‘Country Soul’. The lyrics here lay out a range of idols from T.I, Tim McGraw and Marvin Gaye. The up-beat melody and production give this song a real groove, and it’s great to have this energetic song to open the album. The song also shows off Jones’ impressive rapping, which features heavily throughout the album.

This is followed by ‘Back Porch’. This song features some great instrumentation, with a blend of banjos, guitars and snap-tracks. The lyrics here though are firmly planted in the genre, as we discover all about what’s better on Willie’s back porch!

‘Drank Too Much’ is another song that draws on a familiar country theme, as the title suggests. Written by Willie Jones, Eric Arjes, Brad Clawson and Lamar Edwards, the song is all about liquid confidence, and puts a new spin on the classic drinking song. You can really feel a rush of energy here with a killer, bass-heavy production that adds another dimension.

Similarly, ‘Down for It’ is a love song that exudes a positive energy. This is one of the highlights of the album and provides a blueprint on how to successfully blur the boundaries. The album was produced by MyGuyMars, Mark Batson and Justin Ebach – three sound engineers with very different backgrounds and those collaborations gives the album a unique sound throughout. MyGuyMars also has a great remix of ‘Down for It’, which features towards the end of the album.  

However, the album has some real substance, as well as the party anthems. ‘American Dream’ addresses Jones’ thoughts at racial injustice, and gives his own perspective on being a black artist in the “land of the free”. Written by Willie Jones, Jason Afable, Josh Logan and Alex Goodwin, the powerful lyrics convey a lot of passion and emotion, highlighting the key message that things need to change.

“When I saw the final edit (of the music video), I knew this was my most important statement to date as an artist. It’s going to make people think and also understand how I see our country, our collective past, and futures. It was captured perfectly: the emotion, the creative use of anime, the message being relatable to so many. I felt relieved and inspired. No joke, I got chills.”

The album closes with ‘Actions’. This solo-write by Jones is a tale of a breakup in the modern age, and the lyrics’ give rich imagery that puts a new spin on heartbreak and redemption. This ballad showcases Jones’ vocal ability, and displays even more diversity on an already very strong record.

Many will be familiar with ‘Bachelorettes on Broadway’, the ultimate Nashville good-time tune. Cheeky and joyous, it’s difficult not to enjoy, regardless of what genre you’re into.

Overall, this is a superb debut album which showcases Jones’ versatility, cementing his place in the ever-evolving country music landscape.

Lauren Wyatt

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