Kelly Willis

Kelly Willis

What I Deserve


Texan Kelly Willis has one of the more seductive, strong voices in country music today, and has great songwriting and selecting talents. Unfortunately, a listener of her new album — her first on Rykodisc after a few years on A+M, won’t learn of her charms from this work.

Overproduced with a slick, “Nashville-Friendly” sound, this record holds such great potential that its failure is more disappointing than is really fair. First off, the songs. The songs are great. Featuring music co-written with the Jayhawks’ Gary Louris, and covers of Nick Drake (“Time Has Told Me”), Paul Westerberg (“They’re Blind” from the Replacements’ Don’t Tell a Soul album), and “Heavenbound” by Damon Bramblett, in addition to songs penned by Willis’ husband Bruce Robison, the tunes make you wish you could hear them live.

The musicians on the project are top notch — Chuck Prophet, former Green On Red guitarist is here, as well as Lloyd Maines on steel and John Dee Graham on guitar. It’s an amazing feat that producer Dave McNair has managed to make Prophet, normally one of the sharper, more innovative guitarists out there, sound like a Nashville studio hack. Note to producers of “alternative country” — if you ever have the option to put phase or flange on a guitar — DON’T! This record sounds generic. Dial-it-in country, and not the vehicle a talent like Willis deserves. See her live, and hope for better days in the future.

Rykodisc, Shetland Park, 27 Congress St., Salem, MA 01970;

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Barnes & Barnes
    Barnes & Barnes

    Pancake Dream (Demented Punk Records). Review by Carl F. Gauze.

  • Jeremiah Lockwood
    Jeremiah Lockwood

    A Great Miracle: Jeremiah Lockwood’s Guitar Soli Chanukah Album (Reboot). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Metallica: The $24.95 Book
    Metallica: The $24.95 Book

    From an underground band that pioneered the thrash metal sound, to arguably the biggest rock act in the new millennium, Metallica has had a long and tumultuous history. Ben Apatoff scours a myriad of sources to catalog this history in his new book.

  • Araceli Lemos
    Araceli Lemos

    Shortly after AFI Fest 2021 wrapped, Generoso spoke at length with director, Araceli Lemos about her award-winning and potent feature debut, Holy Emy. Lemos’s film uses elements of body horror in her story about the exoticization of two Filipina sisters living in Greece and how that exploitation creates a distance between them.

  • Southern Accents 55
    Southern Accents 55

    A woofin’ good time with cuts from Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Delta Moon and more from KMRD 96.9, Madrid, New Mexico!

  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

    Absurdism with a healthy dose of air conditioning.

  • Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist
    Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist

    Like pre-teens throwing every liquid into the kitchen blender and daring each other to drink the results, Woody and Jeremy fuse all manner of sounds legitimate and profane into some murky concoction that tastes surprisingly good.

  • Demons/Demons 2
    Demons/Demons 2

    Synapse Films reissues Lamberto Bava’s epic ’80s gore-filled movies Demons and Demons 2 in beautiful new editions.

  • Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson
    Sylvie Courvoisier and Mary Halvorson

    Searching for the Disappearing Hour (Pyroclastic Records). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Payal Kapadia
    Payal Kapadia

    Earlier this year, director Payal Kapadia was awarded the Oeil d’or (Golden Eye) for best documentary at the 74th Cannes Film Festival for her debut feature, A Night of Knowing Nothing. Lily and Generoso interviewed Kapadia about her poignant film, which employs a hybrid-fiction technique to provide a personal view of the student protests that engulfed Indian colleges and universities during the previous decade.

From the Archives