When I hear the term folk in 2012, I usually expect something extremely poppy or sappy, like a duo who happen to be in love, or a hipster artist of some persuasion. Not the case with Los Angeles folk/rock artist Willie Ames, who has enough skill and grit to put him in the classic category with Guy Clark, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Neil Young. His album “Night Owl” is nothing short of impressive, showcasing guitar and banjo skills that could rival just about anyone, and lyrics that make you think. Opening track “Human Race” gets the listener pondering with lines like:
“The fact of it is we’re all here and there ain’t no reason to fear. The rain will fall but the Sun will soon appear. Everything will become clear.”
I don’t know if you’ll find this kind of material on many other releases this year. The beat is driving, gritty folk rock, leading into an even heavier 2nd track, “Night Owl”. Ame’s vocal delivery gets more down and dirty here, taking on an ominous tone as he puts himself into the owl’s perspective. This is probably the album’s signature rocker. Tracks like “Black Widow” allow Willie to show off his musical muscle without any distractions; this one is played on the banjo and it’s a fantastic instrumental. “Desert Run” is also required listening, taking the rock approach once again with a classic Americana flavour.
Willie Ame’s is planning a 2012 U.S tour in support of this excellent release, and I recommend it to any fans of folk rock.
Willie Ames-Night Owl album cover (artwork by Sean V, photography by JAMES IRWIN PHOTOGRAPHY)