Local Review: Joel Willes – Ambition and Glory
Local Music Reviews
Ambition And Glory
Joel Willes = King Dude + Amigo The Devil + Hiss Golden Messenger
At this point in 2020, we all need the perfect salve to a wounded world. With his new record, Ambition And Glory, Joel Willes does his best to deliver. “Whiskey And Weed,” Willes sings, “To cover the mess,” which seems to be the perfect remedy. Willes keeps the vocals on this record just distant enough to allow his unholy guitar to growl. He keeps the same instrumental and lyrical intensity on the tracks “Bloody Plague,” “Life On The Edge,” “Push Back” and “Scratchin.” Willes brings a dark fuzz to the track “Scratchin” that sounds like a radio station not quite centered on the dial. The sound comes from out of nowhere and sizzles like it’s electric, but it also sounds like it’s coming from the same guitar.
You almost need a seat belt with this record—just as Willes brings in the devil, Willes also brings in his inner hippie. The album is partly built with flower child-platitudes like: “Walls may work / But that don’t make them right” (Crossing Over), and “Who can break free and make a change” (Push Back). Willes also fills the record with instrumentals and long guitar breaks in songs that start slow and build to a Pete Townshend–type intensity. It all seems to work and balance out quite nicely.
The center of this album is the title track. The song ties together the duality of the album. “No soul but a lovely Schell”, Willes sings, “Maybe the devil / Or maybe some God / Got no time to tremble / Gotta move on / And on / And on / Let’s move on!” This is perfect advice for this trying time. Maybe Joel Willes is right—we may all need “Whiskey and weed to cover the mess.” This record should be experienced live. RSVP 2021. Fingers crossed. –Russ Holsten