I was so happy to have the opportunity to hear WiL’s new record a few weeks before its release. This guy has a large and dedicated fan base, and writes some of the greatest acoustic folk/country tunes in Canada. Starting off in the mid-90s as a cover-song singing pub act, WiL found his voice and a deal with EMI Records. After two EMI records (2004’s reissue Both Hands and 2007’s By December) the label cut back and cut WiL loose to continue his soul-searching on his own. Since then, he’s been releasing his albums on his own. This new record, El Paseo (Spanish for “The Ride”, to be released September 30) is deeply personal, documenting his life and career so far as an artist.
The result of a phenomenally successful crowd-funding campaign, the album is inspired by his life, and by his own fans who came through with over $10K to help him record it. The album sounds positive, as it really does seem to be a thank you to those fans.
Starting off with the soft sounds of Hold Me On, with it’s ethereal pop overtones, WiL is easing you into this phenomenal album. By the time you hear There Is, you’re engrossed in quiet sounds and positive energy (There is an awful lot of life to live…). Next up is A Whoo Hoo which is downright dancy, inspired by some hard rock (with a dash of auctioneer-styled vocal delivery). This one is my favourite song on the album, it’s full of life and it’s very well placed in the album sequence. You don’t see it coming and suddenly you’re dancing your face off.
The album finishes off with Roam, which was used for a wildly successful Alberta tourism ad campaign. The song is lovely, and it’s nice to see him rerecord it for this album.
The album is great start to finish, and works as a fine intro to WiL’s work (I’ll admit that this album served as my own introduction to the man, though I’ve read about him many times). Powerful songs, great polished production, and a lot of heart. Pick this one up.
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