I Like It Down Here
Will Kimbrough has become one of Nashville’s “most wanted” in recent years, and it’s not hard to see why. Since his intro into the music business back in the ’80s with Will and the Bushmen, Kimbrough has worn many hats, from songwriter and band member (Daddy, with Tommy Womack and Willie Sugarcapps), hired gun (guitarist for Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Jimmy Buffett), producer of such hallmarks as Todd Snider’s East Nashville Skyline and releases from Shemekia Copeland and more. He’s the real deal.
Born in Mobile, Alabama and raised near enough to New Orleans so it rubbed off, Kimbrough is a master songwriter, and his newest album, I Like It Down Here is more evidence of it. Will plays most of the instruments himself along with Chris Donohue on bass and drummer Bryan Owings, and the record’s ten cuts find a groove and never lets up. From the opener “Hey Trouble” to “Buddha Blues”, Kimbrough makes it sound effortless, able to craft gorgeous melodies that hit like the late Tom Petty did at his best.
But just because a tune is groovin’ it doesn’t mean it’s facile. Take “Alabama (For Michael Donald)”. Michael Donald was a black Mobile resident who was lynched in 1981, and Kimbrough’s spare acoustic take (along with blues legend Shemekia Copeland on vocals) is chilling, told in Donald’s voice, and Kimbrough’s atmospheric aura is truly moving. Easily one of most memorable moments from his long career.
Will Kimbrough’s ninth solo record shows that he continues to grow, as a songwriter, guitarist and producer, and makes a listener eager to hear what comes next. He’s a balm in troubled times, and we surely need that.