While only 20 years old, Batesville, Virginia’s Willie DE seems very much a fan and student of a wide array of music artists and genres. His interests seem to go well beyond his years based on what we’ve come to expect of most artists in that age bracket. By the age of 12, DE had already started a band, The Wave. He is also a member of an acoustic trio. Egg Cracked, The Bird Went Wild, is the first solo CD from the artist though.
As a singer/songwriter, Willie DE gets is often compared to Bob Dylan and Van Morrison, who he considers to be significant influences as well. His style pulls from folk, rock, jazz, and blues, and he bounces around multiple genres quite nicely and effortless on this album. Over 11 tracks that clock in just over 41 minutes, Egg Cracked does an excellent job of displaying the range of excitingly young, but experienced talent.
Egg Cracked starts on an alt rock tip that is very reminiscent of “Today” by the Smashing Pumpkins. I wasn’t sure if this excited me or worried me more to be honest, but I am glad I didn’t find ten more songs that reminded me of other songs following it. In general I preferred more of his folky, acoustic songs more, though the distorted, electric ones did provide a nice change at times. Willie writes a nice tune both musically and lyrically. For an artist that seems very capable with a guitar he never tries to show off, which I am sure he is more than capable of. It’s a nice change and shows a fair amount of maturity in a young artist. He seems more set on crafting a good song, and that will only be better for him in the long run.
One thing that I didn’t love about this album was DE’s vocals. My gripe certainly isn’t his ability, he sings fine on many of the tracks. My problem was that he seems to have a way he hears each song sounding, maybe because of an influence, so at times he will put on an accent or alters the way he sings the songs. I didn’t really get the thought process here. It’d be one thing if he did this consistently throughout the album one way or the other, but to change it seemed strange. If you look at the acoustic tracks here, the vocals are what I assume to be Willie DE’s usual style, and they are just better.
Overall, I found Egg Cracked, The Bird Went Wild to be a very promising look into the range and talent of a young artist. I think that the two versions of “Faces in the Sky” provide a good example of my preferences on this album though. While Willie DE does show his strength across genres, he seems to have some experiments that don’t really work out. Nothing really blew me away on this release, but I didn’t find any duds in songwriting either. Egg Cracked is a fairly consistent and good album for a release that moves around stylistically, and its weaknesses are easy fixes for this promising young talent.
Key Tracks: Willow, Egg Cracked, The Bird Went Wild, Moments We Missed
Kevin Kozel - Sr. MuzikReviews.com Staff
September 29, 2012