Tryin' To Make A Little Love

Michelle Willson

Bullseye Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/13/1999

Michelle Willson might not be trying to become the next Big Mama Thornton of the blues/jazz world. All she seems to want to do is to continue to sing the music that she loves and have as much fun with it as she can.

Her latest offering, Tryin' To Make A Little Love, is proof that she is doing exactly what she wants to and has mastery of her domain, even if it needs another coat of polish or two.nbtc__dv_250

If you pick this album up hoping to hear just a blues album or just a jazz album, chances are you'll be disappointed. Willson won't allow herself to be penned into just one style, and hops from one ("Ay La Bas", "Half Past The Blues") to the other ("Life Rolls On", "Corazon de Hielo") almost effortlessly. If, however, you pick up this album with no expectations, then you're in for a treat.

There are a few times where it feels like Willson isn't putting enough emotion into what she's singing, especially on the title track - not a good first impression, seeing it leads off the disc. But things quickly change for the better, as heard on cuts like "I Would Rather Do Without It," "Responsibility" and "Guess You Didn't Love Me Enough".

What is surprising about Tryin' To Make A Little Love is that Willson co-wrote only a few of the 13 songs on the album; I would have expected her to have had more of a say in the songwriting. However, she does choose selections from a worthy bunch of songwriters, including Joan Osborne, Dan Penn, Doc Pomus, Johnny Otis and Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack.

Especially interesting to me was the track "Corazon de Hielo," which adds a Latin flavor to the music and just enough spice to liven up the album. Even if you don't know Spanish, this track is a charmer.

The only real negatives about this album are that it may disappoint the blues purists out there, and it does take a little time to really get into this album. It wasn't until the third listen that I really started to find a lot on Tryin' To Make A Little Love to appreciate - but it was worth the time and effort.

Willson might soon be hailed as one of the next great blues belters out there, and Tryin' To Make A Little Love, even with its small flaws, is definitely a resume booster.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Bullseye Records, and is used for informational purposes only.