For the Good Times

For the Good Times

This is the second release by The Little Willies, a quintet featuring Norah Jones (piano, vocals), Lee Alexander (bass), Richard Julian (guitar, vocals), Dan Rieser (drums), and Jim Campilongo (guitar). It’s a side project for these in-demand musicians, yet it's clearly a labor of love that comes across like a comfortable meeting of friends playing some favorite tunes for the sheer enjoyment of it. Nearly all the tracks here are covers of classic songs by legendary American songwriters such as Loretta Lynn, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Lefty Frizzell, and Ralph Stanley. Restrained and elegant throughout, the band puts its own stamp on these chestnuts by performing them with a relaxed, jazzy feel. There’s not a dull track here, but a few do stand out. Jones injects some sass into “Fist City.” “Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves” chugs along thanks to brilliant guitar work. The title track is all uptown class, while “Jolene” brings this charming release to a haunting, memorable close.

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