For The Good Times kicks things off with a raucous romp through Ralph Stanley’s “I Worship You” that cleverly alternates between a burlesque-drum chorus and a Texas two-step verse. Jim’s slinky guitar picking, Lee’s walking double bass and Dan’s versatile drumming create a fluid foundation for Norah and Richard to beautifully harmonize over. “I Worship You” is a great choice for the opener as it showcases both the upbeat energies and the quieter powers of The Little Willies, all contained within one song. The feisty spirit that’s found in the verses is one of my favorite characteristics of The Little Willies and it’s perfectly repeated throughout the album on songs like Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City,” Lefty Frizzell’s “If You’ve Got The Money I’ve Got The Time” and Johnny Cash’s “Wide Open Road.” In fact, Norah’s flawless channeling on “Fist City” and Richard’s attitude on “Wide Open Road” are two of my most favorite moments on the album. Luckily though, as great as they are on the stompers, they are equally as note-perfect on the weepers. They handle the titular “For The Good Times” as tenderly as the Kristofferson original and Willie Nelson’s “Permanently Lonely” contains a heartbreakingly smooth vocal from Richard, a little barroom tinkling piano from Norah and some beautiful acoustic guitar work from Jim. The hands-down showstopper of the album though is their take on Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” With a brooding undercurrent bubbling below Norah’s pleading vocal, all five members skillfully match the fragility and emotion found in the lyrics. With all of these amazing standards, plus a few welcomed surprises like “Fowl Owl On The Prowl” and “Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves,” For The Good Times ends up blending memories with freshness and the comfortable with the unconventional, all to outstanding results. If your flavor of country music is more AM than FM, you’d be well served to check out For The Good Times and also keep your eyes and ears peeled for The Little Willies. They’re not always on the road, but like all good music, they’re always around.
For The Good Times will be released on Tuesday, January 10 and can be pre-ordered on CD or vinyl directly from The Little Willies HERE.
"Wide Open Road" - The Little Willies (For The Good Times)
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Name the classic country cover song (and the album it appeared on) that Norah and Richard collaborated on BEFORE The Little Willies was officially a band.
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