Friday, August 04, 2017

Willa Vincitore Better Days

Willa Vincitore
Better Days
Building records

Singer-songwriter Willa Vincitore certainly sounds poised to expand her fanbase beyond New York's Hudson Valley with this recording A founding member of harmonica player Chris O'Leary's Band who is heard on this debut by her. Others accompanying her on her twelve originals include guitarist Chris Vitello, saxophonist Jay Collins, brass player Reggie Pittman, bassist Brandon Morrison, drummer Lee Falco and keyboardist Scott Milici.

Willa sings with considerable power as well as nuance with her on point phrasing and intonation. She can handle the hot jump blues groove of the opening "Love Looks Good On Me" with a booting sax solo; or the funk of "Stop, Drop and Roll," with a neat keyboard solo. Then she struts soulfully on "Hooked On You," really soaring at the close with marvelous backing vocals, and the title track which is a nice soul ballad that displays her vocal range as well as her expressive range with some nice guitar fills 

If the above suggests a soulful orientation other songs are in a different vein. There is the insistent blues-rock, "Hey Little Sister," with some smoldering harmonica after a blazing guitar solo, and the folk-flavored "Caroline" with Pete Hop's acoustic guitar. Some buzz-tone slide guitar opens "Mama Needs Some Company," a driving rocker that might evoke Bonnie Bramlett for some, while "Say What," has a reggae-tinged groove with wah-wah keyboards under the brassy backing supporting her fervent vocal and a fine guitar solo. The Caribbean feel also is present on "Opposite of Lonely," which also has Pittman's lugubrious sounding, muted trumpet behind her moving vocal.

The closing "Demons" is an original down-home acoustic blues wonderfully sung with Vitello laying down an outstanding slide guitar accompaniment. While Willa has been compared to the likes of Susan Tedeschi, and Shemekia Copeland, I suggest Ruthie Foster is a more appropriate comparison and she stands up well in comparison. This wonderfully produced recording (credit to Falco and Morrison) allows her to exhibit how marvelous a singer she is, and one whose career certainly is headed to see "Better Days."

I received a review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the July-August 2017 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 373). Here she performs "Hey Little Sister."

No comments: