Photo credit: George Brainard
Critical praise for Back Being Blue:
“The passage of time has brought unforeseen blessings: distance from others’ notions of what she ought to sing and how she should be presented...Without making any fuss, Willis proves that she can have it both ways and that’s a source of pleasure for us listeners, too.”
“Willis steps into the solo spotlight with her seventh full-length project, an enchanting collection of self-penned tunes and impeccably chosen covers. Showcasing the jagged, vulnerable vocals of a honky-tonk angel who’s also freely dabbled in rockabilly, power pop, new wave and R&B.”
“It’s an album that confirms her vocal talents haven’t diminished and adds strong
original songwriting—she penned six of the 10 tracks…It captures everything Willis does
well: her sensitive voice expressing ache, regret and heartbreak with a subtle country
influence all in service to a bluesy tune you’ll sing back after one spin.”
“Willis’ collection of original songs and covers feels effortlessly of the moment.”
“While joining this joy ride, discerning music lovers should be ecstatic, too and ready to welcome Willis back to business with open arms.”
“Back Being Blue is...a return to what [Willis] does best: singing low and lonely
country tunes that signal a deep understanding of country music without sounding
beholden to any one particular trend or tradition...Uniting these diverse sounds is a voice
that conveys dignified heartache as its default setting.”
Kelly Willis’ first solo project in over a decade, Back Being Blue, is out now on Premium Records/Thirty Tigers. Listen HERE. Willis continues her U.S. tour this summer—see below for a complete list of dates.
Back Being Blue is Willis’ seventh full-length studio album and her first solo project since her 2007 LP Translated from Love. Willis’ husband Bruce Robison produced the new album entirely in analogue in his rural recording studio in the pair’s home state of Texas. Willis wrote six of the 10 tracks herself, with help from the likes of Rodney Crowell on the additional four. Notable guests on the record include Eleanor Whitmore (of The Mastersons and Steve Earle and the Dukes), Mark Spencer (of Son Volt) and Trevor Nealon (of Band of Heathens). Back Being Blue is available for purchase HERE.
Willis explains, “I attempted to make music that could fit in any era but leans on the simplicity of the music that first inspired me. Roots rockabilly country blues, to narrow it down for you! Kind of a Nick Lowe meets Skeeter Davis meets Crystal Gayle. Sounds that were in full blaze when I first moved Austin.”
Willis is herself a longtime feature in the city, having moved to Austin to pursue music shortly after graduating from high school. Not long after, famed singer/songwriter Nancy Griffith took a shine to her voice and recommended Willis to producer Tony Brown, one of the titans of Nashville country, who signed her to a deal with MCA. Willis found herself in the spotlight of country music world in Nashville, with three albums released to widespread critical acclaim.
In the intervening years, Willis refined her signature alt-country style on her own terms, releasing three full-length albums and collaborating with husband Robison on additional projects. Her last album, Translated from Love, was released in 2007 to ardent critical praise. NPR’s “Fresh Air” termed the album, “a terrific piece of pop opera,” while Interview echoed “Kelly Willis ultimately blows away the year’s biggest noisemakers.”