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| 22 June 2021 | Reply

Label: Independent

Release Date: June 4, 2021

Rating: 93%

Reviewer: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur

New comer Willa Amai struck me from the first time I heard her cover of “The Game.”  I couldn’t wait until she released a full-length, as the last few months have been peppered by tracks and videos from the release.  Disc opener “Fallout” is an ethereal piece that sets the mood and the bar for the entire disc.  Listening through the track, the musical accompaniment takes a back seat to the strong vocals of this young performer that has the pipes to perform music this driven and emotional, especially as the song crescendos in and through the choruses.  “Not A Soldier” starts off with a different texture in the mix, but the song swings into place as Amai’s vocals again take the forefront and the lead.  The lyric is as intense as the layered vocal on the track, especially as the pre-chorus leads us into a contagious, simplistic lyric in the chorus.  The keyboard structure of this track draws me in with each listen and I find different nuances with each spin.  “Like I Want You To” strength lay in its vocal and the way it swirls with the musical component.  Producer Linda Perry shows her influences and skills on a song like this that features some upper range vocal stylings and some seemingly simplistic instrumentation.  “Twice” is one of the tracks that marries the various tones, textures, and overall vibes of the disc together and gives us a good look and listen to the different landscapes presented on this disc.  The orchestration sprinkled throughout adding a different feel to the song and the collection overall.  “Hurricane” opens with a beautiful acoustic guitar and keyboard driven sound that perfectly supports Willa’s vocal through the first verse and into the chorus.  While taking a different approach – less dramatic and blustery – the song packs the emotional punch of a hurricane.  This is one of the more emotionally charged lyrics and vocals on the disc.  “Unorganized Crime” follows the darker lead of a lot of the other songs and keeps the disc from deviating too far from the path cut by the other songs here.  The vocal is definitely the focus of this one and it features some cool textures and sounds that come together, both vocally and musically.

“Puzzle” has a more tempered sound sonically, but the vocal on this one takes us into new territory, as it allows Willa to demonstrate the reach and strength of her voice, its strength, and its range.  The tones are similar to some from the aforementioned “The Game” that captured my head and heart previously.  “Too Close” has one of the most contagious choruses on the disc that begs you to sing along before the first pass is done and dares you to ignore it once the second round hits. Amai’s vocal is as strong and defiant as it is vulnerable and willing as the song winds through the verses and to the final note, adding depth to the disc.  “The Beautiful” has a sound and groove that keeps this consistent across the twelve tracks, with vocals and musical pieces that fit perfectly between the others here.  The layered vocals on the bridge have an interesting ‘something’ in them that catch me off guard each time I listen through.  “Blows By” is a great song that has a very pop feel to it, allowing us to get a different sound and feel from Willa and producer Perry.  The guitar work is fun and the vocal is bright, especially when the wall of sound hits at the chorus.  The cadence is fun and the rhythm section lets you join in the fun.  I find myself damn near dancing in my seat every time this one comes on.  The world needs more music like this.  “”I Guess” has a cool piano intro that sets the foundation for Amai’s voice to join the fray and create a beautiful sound that fills out as the drums and other instruments jump into the mix.  The song never quite runs away from itself, but instead maintains a steady pace, like that of a runner tracking themselves for the marathon ahead.  Disc closer “Tell Me” takes us out with a showcase of Willa’s voice and her grasp of its power and ability to create and relay emotion as each word and enunciation comes through the speakers.  While I am more than content listening through these songs, I hope we can get Miss Amai on a stage somewhere near me so I can witness the emotional power and her performance of these songs live.

Tracklisting: Fallout – Not A Soldier – Puzzle – Like I Want You To – Too Close – Twice – The Beautiful – Hurricane – Blows By – Unorganized Crime – I Guess – Tell Me





Category: CD Reviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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