Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Trees Have Soul
Genres: Folk, Pop, Rock
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Willy's first effort is pretty darn impressive
P. Smith | Chicago, IL | 09/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first heard Willy Porter when I was 18 and he and his band opened up for The Freddy Jones Band at The Aragon Ballroom in Chicago around Thanksgiving of 1995. I have seen him live several times since, both solo and with a band. This CD is a re-release of his first album, with one additional song ("Reach").
Soon after I saw him for the first time, I posted a message on a tape trading board asking if anyone had any live tapes of Willy, since I was so blown away by his live performance. I received an e-mail from Paul Perrone, Willy's then-former percussionist who plays on this CD. He was a great guy and hooked me up with some old live tapes (Willy used to cover Jackson 5 songs!) and also gave me an original version of this CD (at the time, this had not been re-released). This CD has stood the test of time and might be my favorite CD from Willy.
"The Trees Have Soul" is not as pop-oriented or slick as his later CD's, but it is still quite accessible. The songs are generally quite mellow, and you would never hear any of them on the radio (which is good and bad). It is the perfect CD for a rainy day sitting on the couch reading a book. You're not going to be blasting any of the songs at a party, unless it's 3AM and everyone has left except a few people who want to chill out. Willy's unbelievably impressive guitar skills are evident on most songs, particularly the two "Zak's Tale" tracks and "Moonbeam" (I saw him play the latter solo at the Knitting Factory in New York, and it was simply astounding. I caught the eyes of a few people around me and we just laughed at how it's possible someone can play like that). The album would probably appeal more to fans of fingerstyle music (and it's not that new age-y sounding fingerstyle that you usually hear), and most of the songs are quite long. However, I'm not a big fingerstyle fan, and I think this CD is great, so it would likely appeal to pop fan who has an open ear (sort of how I might describe myself).
This is very much an album best enjoyed in its entirety. Still, my personal favorite track is "Draw the Time" which is simply a superb ballad. The title track is also a fantastic song, though I think we all could do without the "running through the jungle" middle section. "Reach" sticks out a bit and you can tell that it was not part of the original lineup of songs. It's not a bad song by any means, though. It was probably too mellow for his other albums and it gave those who owned the original album (me) a reason to buy this version. There are only two tracks I tend to skip. One is "Fullerton Express," though I still concede it is amazing from a guitar perspective. The other is "Southwind." The electric guitar sounds really 80's (and not in that cool New Order-ish kind of way) and like it was played through the $25 guitar amp I bought when I got my first guitar.
You might be startled at first at how weak the recording quality is for these songs (it's even worse on the original CD), but you get used to it rather quickly and it actually fits the style of music fairly well (sort of like Iron and Wine's "The Creek Drank From the Cradle" which is all from a 4-track...another great CD, by the way)
I definitely recommend this album for fans of Leo Kottke, Nick Drake, and most fingerstyle artists. I think if Nick Drake were still alive today, he'd be in the audience having a great time and learning a thing or two at Willy's live shows.
"Trees" a great look at Willie's early talent
P. Smith | 09/26/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I think it should probably be clarified that Trees Have Soul actually came out in a limited run *before* Dog Eared Dream and represents earlier work of Willie's. After the success of the second album, Trees was rereleased in its current form with a new cover and a bonus track. The album is great fun to listen to--it has a less produced sound to it, and more instrumental work highlighting Willie's techinical skills--but it is not as consistent an album as Dog Eared Dream. However getting the chronology of the albums right lets us see this as growth on Willie's part, and not a decline."
My name is Zak
Zachary Patterson | MD, United States | 06/22/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Buy Willy's cd, and you wont be able to beleive that youre listening to a single person play guitar. Go see him live, and you will think youre hearing a whole band. This man is a true performer. He puts on the best live show that you will ever be lucky enough to go see. You cannot see a better live performance."