Here's an artist, and a demo disc, worth talking about!
The intimate clarity Michelle Willis' Shining Bits and Pieces, an EP demo of original songs, captures and reveals every expressive nuance of the singer/pianists' silky voice. Twisting and turning, these songs explore the lyrics’ journey, creating musical textures that enwrap the listener. Shining does exactly that, glistening with freshness and energy.
The funky Quincy Jones-like groove of “Psychology” gives us a taste of Willis’ blues-R&B chops. She's able to make perfect sense of the quirky almost-anti-melodic semitone dissonance of “Rain,” and brings a wonderful spontaneity to “Weightless” and “Love Song.” Like other songs on this recording, “Open Hands” constantly entices and surprises with shifts of time, style, and texture. Backed by Heather Crawford (guitar), Charles James (bass), Shawn Rompre (drums), Kristjan Bergey (tenor sax) and vocalists Marla Walters, Janee Olivia and Andre Reid, Willis has a seemingly endless resource of vocal colours – breathy whisper, feline purr, bluesy growl, soulful wail – all used so naturally.
We’ll definitely be hearing more about this extremely talented singer-songwriter. In fact, you can hear her at the Rex this month, on February 9, 16, and 23, at 6:30 pm.