Album Breakdown- Will & The Won’ts ‘The Traveler’ by Matt Linsky

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We’re proud to announce our first guest blogger, Matt Linsky!! Matt works in “The Biz” and possesses a wealth of musical knowledge. He is clearly just as much an expert fan as Jo. See what he had to say about Badass Band 78- Will & The Won’ts ‘The Traveler’ EP! If you’re digging on ’em and want to catch ’em live, scope them THIS SATURDAY, November 16 at Good Hurt in Venice! 9pm!

Will And The Won’ts “The Traveler” Album Review and Analysis

Hastily Slopped Together by Matt Linsky

Rare. This is rare. Most of the time, attempts to capitalize on a musical trend are done in a manner devoid of originality. These musical followers carefully detail their music around current trends. This tactic has a fundamental flaw. – by limiting musicianship and lyrical content to self-imposed parameters, these musicians crucially cripple their creativity. So when a new Alt-Country artist emerges from the woodworks during a time when Alt-Country just so happens to have more prominence than ever before, it is likely an attempt to capitalize on the almighty trends….. most of the time…..

Will and the Won’ts debut LP “The Traveler” is more than just the exception. Fresh, original, unafraid, self-conscious, and just really goddamn good; it defies the existence of such rules. It is the “bizarro” version of the Mumford & Sons copycats that have dared to shamelessly bait-and-switch honest consumers.  Each track is organic with a range of emotional depth.  Each story is honest and true. Coincidentally, their track “In The Presence Of Wolves” warns us of such predatory persons and at the same time provides an honest alternative. This is rare. This is real.

“Dead And Gone” kicks through the saloon doors while double-fisting Jack Daniels. Guitarist/Singer/Harp/Frontman Will Risbourg throws down old-school blues guitar, Dylan-esque songwriting, and a delicate vocal touch like a golden gloves boxer combining precise footwork, a consistent jab, and a mean right hook. And it doesn’t hurt that he looks like a Twilight vampire – If you drink enough bourbon and squint really hard I’m pretty sure he sparkles. Right when you think you have him pegged, “I Fall Behind” and “Let Go” reveal the existence of depth, while providing an inkling of how far into his own mind he is willing to journey in his pursuit of artistic satisfaction.

The musicianship on “The Traveler” stands up admirably to the quality of the compositions. Drummer/Background Vox/All-Around-Awesome-Guy Andrew Bilotti displays a mastery of dynamics and a disposition for drum head destruction. “What’s In Your Mind” showcases his ability to completely change the feel of a chorus by making minimal adjustments. Keyboardist/Lap Steel/Background Vox/Harp player Matt Salmons functions a part of the super-glue that holds the wide range of frequencies together. He fills space like Frank Lloyd Wright – properly accounting for structural integrity whilst adding remarkable style and texture. Brazillian-born Bassist Gui Bodi ensures that the bottom will hold up to any sort of pounding. Go ahead and pound away! You can pound on that bottom all day. And it can take it. Thanks to Gui. And let’s not forget Background Vocalist Sarah Grace and Harp Player Eric Corne. Their respective contributions garnish and spice this feast for the ears.

“Empty As I Can Be” and “Oh Angelina” keeps the train a-rollin’ and “Memories” will literally force you to sing along, but the train comes to screeching halt when “The Traveler” shows its weathered, well-worn face.

“Oh Traveler – you’re far away from home

All your friends are alcoholics. You’re fearless yet alone.”

That is some Tom Waits level lyricism. Smokin’ alcoholics to the filter. Holy shit – that is really dark. This song is the standout on an album full of standouts – if only for its relevance to the albums continuity. See, “The Traveler” is more than just the title track. It is the light at the end of the tunnel. Equally distant from Yin and Yang – it is the fulcrum that keeps the scale balanced. It is the revelation that turns boys into men. It exposes the true message of this 9 chaptered novel: no matter where you go, where you run, where you hide, you will always be stuck with yourself. Open yourself to pain. Let it teach you to be a better person. Only then can you walk through the fires of life and remain unburnt. “The Traveler” takes you to hell and back, and we are all better off for it. But at the same time the things that make this track brilliant serve as reminders for what could have been.

I do not believe that this album represents the full potential of the band. One can point to directly to the album’s title track as evidence of this. While the other eight recordings most definitely hold water, “The Traveler” combines nearly every emotional angle in an impossibly scientific manner. The dynamics are form-fitting. It subdues you while navigating the depths of your soul. But where was that for the rest of the album? I mean, yes – every song has a clearly defined message delivered with intelligence and taste, but nothing like this. Then again, hitting a home run 1 out of 9 times up to bat ain’t too shabby.

The only other element that I felt was missing was a wider range of color. The tones on the album are just fine. They blend in seamlessly. But I cannot help but imagine this band with more expansive sonic parameters. Instead of working with canvas, I wish they’d draw on the world itself. Rarely does a band come along who can expand the limits of a musical genre – I believe that Will and the Won’ts can be one the torchbearers that music so desperately needs. The kind of band that sticks it to the carpetbaggin’, bandwagonin’, background-trackin’, vibe-lackin’, wannabes that have overpopulated the airwaves.

Underlying all of the musical and lyrical genius on the record are Risbourg’s personal philosophies. He’s 50-year-old scotch in a 21-year-old bottle.  He is a teacher, a preacher, a lover, a poet – a truly magnificent bastard. You may not, and probably don’t like what he has to say, but deep down in your heart you know he’s right. He sees us for what we are and is unafraid to cut you, and himself, to the core. But it feels so right. Because, of course, he is right. Right about you, right about the world, and most importantly – right about what’s wrong.

Will and the Won’ts – “The Traveler” ********** (9/10)

Matt Linsky is a High School graduate. Follow him on twitter @MattLinskyMusic

Want more? Scope Will & The Won’ts original BBB post/interview here: http://badassbandsblog.com/2013/08/11/badass-band-78-will-and-the-wonts/

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