Free Willy – ‘Remember The Alamo’ (Buddha Belly Records)

Free Willy – ‘Remember The Alamo’ (Buddha Belly Records)

Texan Americana group Free Willy infuses a classic blend of bluegrass crossover and alt country into their overall sound.

Formed in 2016 at the Mixing Room, a recording studio in Nacogdoches, TX, W. B. Jones initiated the process that jumpstarted the Free Willy Band.  Jones has been writing songs for many years and he wanted to ignite the business of releasing these tracks to the rest of the world.  He contacted Jim Taylor and they both went about bringing together the best performers/recording artists in the Deep East Texas area for the project.  They enlisted Spence Peppard (lead guitar, drums, vocals), Kevin Carter (fiddle and mandolin), Steve DeVries (banjo and harmonica) as well as rhythm guitar and vocals from W. B. Jones and Jim Taylor (bass and vocals), who also produces the album.

Remember The Alamo opens up with the track, “Amazing Gracie,” that evokes deft finger-work on the banjo.  The energetic sounds of the fiddle traces throughout the track.  About the surprising twists and turns of unrequited love, the jumpy, staccato tunes elicits a good hoe-down feel.  Redolent with the tangled themes of love, the musicians play together in this revving recording totally attuned to the coalescing of memorable strings jamming together to shed light upon a love story that just doesn’t turn out the way it is supposed to.

“Get In The Car” follows through with some great storytelling.  This Americana track with a country-twang and invigorating bluegrass remunerates over a dreamy vibe filled with nostalgic overtones.  The wailing of the fiddle, here, elicits some of the yearning pouring out from Jones’ vocals.

On “God Has A Name.” the album takes the high road for the high-and-mighty, building upon a vision that includes a higher power.  The song emits a strong string of tunes in a multitude of deeply blended country, Americana, and bluegrass.  The strength of this number is how the string instruments readily blend into a steady melding of tight music-making, highlighting the banjo, guitar, and fiddle.

“Not Your Everyday Love Song” sizzles with an amped energy from the fiddle.  Combined with a warmth from the vocals and a heartfelt sense, the fresh candor that emanates from this song, adds a refreshing essence to the overall track.

The staccato strings on “As A Man Thinkeith” is a spirited release.  This is a lively acoustic session that enlists the energized playing of the fiddle that definitely vies for your attention.

“Another Day Another Dollar” is about the working class man as he toils about his work day.  The sounds of the harmonica on this track adds a jaunty layer to the overall bright tone.  The song preaches about earning your keep with the motto that lays it into you: “with the dawning of a new day is another dollar.”

“It’s Good If You Like It” starts off with a magnetic, jamming vibe with rhythmic strumming from both the banjo and guitar.  Interspersed with the woven sounds of the dancing fiddle, the mainstay of the track is through the thrust and pull of energetic strings.  Jones recalls his mother always following up after asking her kids “Is it good?” with her very own saying, “It’s good if you like it.”  Jones continues to past this on to his own kids, and hopes by plugging this family tradition into a song that it will “catch fire” and spread among audiences, so that they can share in on the fun.

On “Meant To Be,” the plunking of the banjo strings and elegant sounds from the fiddle add to the all-encompassing soothing lyrics.  Jones wrote this for his wife – in how a culture where most relationships don’t last, theirs has only gotten stronger.  The beatific words and sounds makes this the perfect wedding song.

The upbeat “Sugar Baby” dances upon a great beat with the instrumentals really jamming together.  There is no vocals.  The track depends purely on the instrumentals to pull through.  This solely acoustic session is a vibrant blend of Americana, country and bluegrass.

Jones breaks it down for us in each of these fascinating songs, tales that delve into the anecdotally past and traces the present pulse of the countryside into the future.  Travel cross-country through America in the train song, “Down The Track,” visit San Antonio, TX, as Jones serenades you in this memorable nearly 5 minutes long waltz set in modern times about a love story that meets a tragic outcome in the title-track, “Remember The Alamo,” and trace the Americana landscape with fresh arrangements from “The Stars Spangled Banner” and “America The Beautiful” in “American Medley.”

With rollicking Americana, alt country, and bluegrass tunes, the album embodies the American soundscape and honors our nation’s traditional storytelling instincts in 12 compelling narratives that stand time attested.

The narrative arc doesn’t just stop at the Alamo but encompasses both coasts.  We sees this in the road-tripping’ “Get In The Car,” the train-tracking. “Down The Track,” and the patriotic “American Medley” that invites listeners on a bluegrass and Americana listening experience with our national anthem and “America The Beautiful.”

Embellished with intricate banjo pickings, layers of charged fiddling, and energized strumming on the guitar strings, many a cherished moment is celebrated in these deep-treading acoustic songs.

In the driven traditions of Americana, country, and bluegrass music done right, these high-strung tracks produced in the old-timey spirit dances across the scope of the American heartland.

Free Willy pays attention to the traditions of Americana and country music without alienating the newer generation of music enthusiasts, and this makes an astronomical difference in bridging the generational gap.

While Free Willy has not forgotten their roots, audiences of all ages can appreciate this group of accessible country infused selections.

About what’s next for the band, Jones says, “This band of (mostly) old men are not only great guys, they are the most talented musicians I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, and they have made the first part of my dream come true (which you are about to listen to, hopefully over and over again).  Part II is yet to come, shelves full of awards!, and thanks to my new friends, I now have a Part III as well.  Album #2, which we will begin recording this fall.”

My Nguyen

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Free Willy – ‘Remember The Alamo’ (Buddha Belly Records)