6 Feb 2023
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Wills & Wills - Album Review: Ain't Seen The Likes of You Before

13 Jul 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

This trio is formed around singer/songwriters and father and son team Shayn (guitar, harmonica, viola, vocals) and Zephyr Wills (guitar, bass, vocal) along with Freddy Limbert (drums, vocals). Shayn is a well-established singer-songwriter and blues musician who has performed in almost every town in the North Island, as well as supporting artists ranging from Albert King to Junior Wells. Zephyr has followed a dual career in different genres, winning the Joan Prior Folk Music Award in 2021, while as a classical violist he has performed with members of the New Zealand String Quartet, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and will soon be off to Penn State where he has been awarded a two-year scholarship to study a Masters of Music. Freddy has been recording and performing with Shayn for more than thirty years and has also worked alongside the likes of R.L. Burnside and B.B. King.

Before I chose to review the album, I listened to the first 30 seconds of the first song on Soundcloud and was immediately volunteering as the opening title cut was pure Dylan from the early Sixties, and I knew I needed to get my teeth into it. Recorded in just five days, this sounds very much like a live recording with only one song featuring father and son sharing lead, with the others all being sung by the writer. Strangely enough, that number, Don’t You Know, is the only one which doesn’t work for me as it contains a rather strange falsetto and is much more mid-Seventies than the rest of the material. Putting that neatly to one side, the rest of the album is a delight as they work through various Americana/Blues/Dylan styles in a way which is a voyage of discovery and delight. Zephyr is more rooted to the Dylan fashion, while his father has somewhat broader tastes (and his solo Ode To Horace is full of poise and restraint), and the two voices contrast well as Shayn has more gravel and grit and sounds more lived in yet Zephyr is far more like early Dylan.

As one would expect from two travelled musicians and one classically trained, the performance is wonderful, but they keep it tied down and one understands they could do so much, but instead have realised that less is more, to create something which is special, ageless, and wonderful. It is only the clarity which allows the listener to realise this is a modern album, as it sounds so much like times gone by and is all the better for it.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Wills & Wills

Wills & Wills are a father and son folk/rock duo from Auckland, New Zealand. They perform around New Zealand in local halls, often with Raglan drummer Freddy Limbert. They released their first album Ain't Seen The Likes Of You Before in July 2022.




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