The Little Willies
For the Good Times (Milking Bull / EMI)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Jan. 20, 2012
The Little WilliesFor the Good Times (Milking Bull/EMI)
What began as a one-off excuse for Norah Jones and four of her friends to play some country music at a dive on New York City's Lower East Side now has a second act. For the Good Times follows the same template forged with a self-titled effort from 2006: heavy with tunes from country legends, like the Kris Kristofferson penned title track, Dolly Parton's "Jolene," and "Lovesick Blues," made famous by Hank Williams. When Jones acts as the primary vocalist on the appropriately feisty "Fist City" and the title track, the songs possess the same ebullience as her finely tuned solo work. Problems arise with second vocalist Richard Julian, whose mild tenor is the musical equivalent of beige. His reading of Willie Nelson's "Permanently Lonely" dances with the local country icon's trademark delivery while maintaining none of its soul. That ultimately relegates the Little Willies to making "cocktail country" for those who don't care for the real thing.