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WILLY DeVILLE ‘Crow Jane Alley’ (2004)

Who doesnít remember the name Mink (aka Willy) DeVille? OK, maybe all you can remember is the hit Spanish Stroll in the late 70ís, but itís a class rock Ďní roll moniker.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Willy has been hiding for the last couple of decades. But a quick trawl through his back catalogue reveals heís actually been quite prolific. His last offering was 1999ís Horse Of A different Colour - an exploration of the black music of the deep South.

Crow Jane Alley is more mainstream. Chieva opens the album with accordions, flamenco guitars and a distinctly Spanish feel, featuring David Hilgado of Los Lobos. And Willyís vocals are spot on - throaty latino. Right There, Right Then could easily be the Boss. Downside Of Town is another Spanish crooner - accordions, acoustic and again echoes of Springsteen - in the title, the lyrics and the delivery.

My Forever Came Today is a lush ballad with Righteous Brothers overtones. Crow Jane Alley is a soul/blues number - again the story and the vocals to the fore. Muddy Waters Rose Out Of The Mississipi Mud is a classic - a blues talky with a wonderful groove and marvellous vocal delivery.

Come A Little Closer returns to the latin flavour (it wouldnít be out of place on Evita), Slave to Love is a neat cover of the Bryan Ferry number, slowing it a little with Willyís distinct vocal style. (Donít Have A) Change Of Heart has a country feel and Trouble Cominí Everyday In A World Gone Wrong wraps the album up with a slow cooking groove and another smouldering emotional charged vocal.

So all, in all, a pretty damn fine album. I suspect it ainít gonna set the world alight, but thereís a depth of quality here that merits a better exploration.


Review by Pete Whalley

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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