Willamena is a band based in Kalamazoo, MI that has released six independent albums to date with six singles getting national radio play. They have played live shows all over the country and have a local following. Their album Strong Enough to Last features five rock tracks with a folk vibe and a sound that is accessible to all music fans.
The album started with the title track “Strong Enough to Last” which had a nice harmonica intro which blended into a Tom Petty-esque sound. The vocals came off as a little aggressive to me that didn’t jive well with the overall sound, at least for part of the track. Production wise, the song was solid. Everything was mixed perfectly and sounded professional.
I liked the feel-good quality of the music, it reminded me of something you’d hear at a summer festival with free-spirited bohemian types rhythmically swaying by the stage. Although there is a rock foundation, it has more of a jam band quality about it, without the long periods of jamming, if that makes sense.
The second track “Open Up the Stars” opened once again with pretty harmonica and had a universal “Hold on, it’ll get better” kind of message with the lyrics. At times the lyrics felt cliche and a little ordinary, but overall I still enjoyed the song.
“As Long As I Can” reminded me of a Bruce Springsteen song, although I couldn’t figure out which one. As with the previous tracks, it had a folksy positive sound, even when the lyrics are brushing on tough issues, the sound is upbeat and fun.
“When You Close Your Eyes” had more of a rock feel and started off feeling like an anthem. I enjoyed the vocals on this track more than the others. They were slightly more understated and felt more real and natural. I really dug the lyric “I’m drowning from the weight of my dreams” and it worked with the feel and flow of the song. The final track “Darkest Before the Dawn” had some really nice harmonies but the lyrics were lacking for me. Some of the cliche phrases were intentional I’m sure, but they came off as a little much.
Strong Enough to Last had strong points but I felt the album sometimes lacked diversity and felt familiar. Willamena definitely has talent but there wasn’t anything that really stood out to me that felt singular to the band. I think the need to be accessible might be holding back some real potential in some of the tracks. I still enjoyed the album and I think there's a definite possibility for greatness. I look forward to future evolution.
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook