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Kelly Willis
EASY
(RYKODISC)

Stars graphics

If voice alone could make a singer a star, Kelly Willis might be the Mariah Carey of country music. An Army brat born in Oklahoma and raised in Virginia, she first attracted attention in the 1980s leading a rockabilly band called Kelly and the Fireballs that eventually settled in Austin. As a solo artist, she made three albums for MCA Nashville (1990Ė1994) that her fans felt suffered from the unsatisfying tension and compromise between the airplay demands of the country biz and Austinís organic rootsiness.

Easy is Willisís second for Rykodisc, following her modestly successful (120,000 sold) 1999 What I Deserve?, and it reveals her alterna-country credentials to be mostly a sham. Willis wrote and co-produced many of the ordinary songs on this uneventful album, and right from the start, on "If I Left You," sheís an acquiescent, dependent woman. "I wouldnít go out on the town," she sings, and you wonder why the heck not. "Wait Until Dark", written with John Levanthal, is about having to hold off on lovemaking till the kids are asleep; itís not exactly a new notion to any cohabiting parents, and she doesnít give it any urgency. And when Marcia Ball sings "Find Another Fool," itís a butt-kicking rebuke to someone who done her wrong: she tells him to find another fool. In Willisís tepid rendition, it appears that finding another fool is just what Kellyís going to do.

BY WAYNE ROBINS

Issue Date: October 3 - 10, 2002
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