“…sparse, feral swampy blues, occasionally reminiscent of the more tender moments of 16 Horsepower…comparisons to Joni Mitchell , Carole King, Bobby Gentry and, especially, PJ Harvey would not be unreasonable but they wouldn’t tell the entire story. Willis may well be that rarest of things in a ridiculously oversubscribed field: something genuinely original.”
Willis is the stage name of Hayley Willis, best known for her inimitable cover of Cameo’s Word Up and for FIAT exposing her track Smokescreen to a 2012 Super Bowl audience of over 100 million people worldwide.
Having grown up in London on a diet of Elvis Presley and nursery rhymes, an inability to remember other people’s lyrics forced Willis into writing her own songs. Though hugely influenced by female American artists like Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald and Brenda Lee, a six-year spell at the eclectic London store, Soul Jazz Records, belatedly introduced her to the world of dance music and electronica, and by the mid 2000s she was releasing records via her own label, Cripple Creek.
After recording the critically acclaimed Come Get Some album for 679/Warners, she returned with 2010’s Uncle Treacle on Cripple Creek, followed by the The Night Time EP and the current release, Songs Of Molly Drake.
“Nowadays, it’s possible to throw a stone over your shoulder and hit any number of self-consciously rootsy female singer-songwriters, but just as there wouldn’t have been many as extraordinarily talented as Willis when she emerged seven years ago, it’s clear from this that there aren’t very many equal to her now.