For the second chapter of this family band’s musical book, they turn to the pages of old-time country and bluegrass. Chapter Two: Boots is the sequel to the Willis Clan’s debut album, Chapter One: Roots, focusing on traditional Irish music. You may recall this Irish-American band from season nine of America’s Got Talent. Toby and Brenda Willis have a dozen children whose names all begin with the letter “J.” Dad and all but the two youngest children sing and wrote all the songs on the album. Influenced by their grandparents who taught them their first bluegrass song, the group soaked in the sounds of the music, but today they’ve added their unique spin to the genre.
On this CD, in addition to the traditional bluegrass instruments, the Clan adds glockenspiel, accordion, drums, and keyboard. While the talents shine through on the vocals and musicianship, the songwriting is especially impressive: from Jessica Willis’ “What Can I Say” (Rarely am I speechless/Never lost for words/Always been the girl that’s sometimes seen/But always heard/Standing here before you, I’ve never felt this bad/Thinking of the things I’ve said/I wish I’d never had) to the cleverly written “Ode To A Toad” by Jessica and Toby Willis (He couldn’t ribbit/He couldn’t croak/All he did was choke and choke/Finally in desperation/Giving way to aggravation/Out he stepped into the street/Never knowing what he’d meet/A passing car was unaware/Of tragedy occurring there/And lickity split, berbump, ker-splat/The grup was gone/The toad was flat). This CD is bursting full of the same energy and vitality that this talented troupe exhibits on stage. (www.thewillisclan.com)BC