Willie Jones - Something To Dance To
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Something To Dance To (Sony Music Nashville, 2023)

Willie Jones

Reviewed by Jim Hynes

Louisiana-born, Black country singer Willie Jones might best be thought of as a hybrid artist who brings a signature blend of country, pop, soul and hip-hop to the genre. He also brings that swampy element that's long been missing as we recall Jerry Reed and Tony Joe White. Nonetheless, with his major label debut, Jones seems to move in a few directions with the results being just a little too slick.

There are some strong songs, but the album is uneven to a fault and not as danceable as the title might imply. That said, the title track is one of the better ones as it uses real instrumentation as opposed to drum programming for example. His voice, clearly a strong suit, is positioned prominently in the mix. On the other hand, the true marriage of country and hip-hop is the essence of "I Can't Complain," but it is just too repetitive until the end when it veers more toward the country vibe. This unevenness may be partly attributable to many co-writers, not only throughout the album, but some songs even have credits to as many as five writers.

"Lil Vibe" sounds like a mix of tropical, hip-hop and club. It's difficult to ascribe any country to it and as such, it falls flat. "Slow Cookin'" butchers anything resembling Hank Williams (who is in the credits due to a snippet). The hand clap, finger snap motif that prevails in the second half of the album can be annoying, but two of the better songs are "Them Girls Do" and the fun loving "Soul Food" with its upbeat groove. "Get Low, Get High" adds horns to the mix, compensating somewhat for the snap/pop beat and the choruses swell with background vocalists, veering more toward a pop sound.

Jones has plenty to offer as his blend is truly unique, but he fell victim to big label overproduction and overthinking on this outing.

CDs by Willie Jones

Right Now, 2021

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