Last Will & Testament
Back in those “good ol’ days,” a “convenience” store was any supermarket within five miles of our “Leave it to Beaver” community that was open ’til 7pm, six days a week. As a result, we’d have neighbors knocking at our door frequently in hopes of borrowing a much-needed cup of sugar or flour, as they pulled together all the ingredients necessary for those cookies, cakes and pies that had to be baked TONIGHT. Simply put, Bonnie Whitmore is that neighbor. And with the release of her latest record, Last Will and Testament, the celebrated Texas-based singer / songwriter and multi instrumentalist borrows just enough “ingredients” from just enough musical “neighbors,” she succeeds in baking one of the tastiest confections of 2020.
A snappy tag team production effort between Whitmore and fellow Austin musician / songwriter, Scott Davis, the ten-song set opens with the epic, record-defining title track – a soaring seduction that’s owns roadhouse authenticity and drips cathouse allure.
Of the most heart-stopping highlights, the dreamy “None of My Business” possesses the purity of Doris Day circa ’57, while “Right/Wrong” captures the magic of Roy Orbison circa ’88.
Crackling with the contagious countrified craftsmanship of Karla Bonoff, “Fine” squares off in a compelling tussle with “Asked for It” – an equally infectious, yet more guitar-driven tune that boasts the balls to tackle an important topic – So go on and blame the victim. Why should violence have consequence? She’s the kind of girl you said, “asked for it.”
As they say, “it takes a village.” In that regard, Eleanor Whitmore demands a “gold star” for her chilling string contribution on the hypnotic “Time to Shoot.” Additionally, back-up vocalists, Akina Adderley and Martha Whitmore bring extra curb appeal to the bluesy, Gospel-tinged “Love Worth Remembering.” Something of a stylistic square peg, “Imaginary” benefits from Betty Soo’s accordion work blended beautifully into a melody that really wants to merge onto Aimee Mann Avenue.
Rounding out the set – another pair of standouts. “Flashes & Cables” breathes a sense of urgency and the record-closing, piano bar-birthed “George’s Lullaby” is guaranteed to make your brown eyes blue.
In spirit of full disclosure, I will confess openly that in the last 30 years, I’ve never responded to any publicist’s music review submission with such zeal – especially not after sampling only one song from said album. However, in the case of Last Will & Testament, that’s exactly what happened. And be sure, October ain’t too early for me to begin pondering my personal “Record of the Year” pick.