What To Say [Barnes & Noble Exclusive]by Daphne Willis
What if Jason Mraz and John Mayer were trapped inside the body of a twenty-something girl with a voice that alternately sounds like Rickie Lee Jones, Macy Gray, and Edie Brickell? Well, somewhere amidst that goulash of influences emerges Daphne Willis, a Chicago-based singer and songwriter whose first full-length album, What to Say, is the work of a musician with a bit more talent than focus. Willis' songs are a little on the wordy side, but the easy conversational tone of her lyrics makes them sound significantly better than they read, and she pulls off the R&B influences of her vocals surprisingly well for a gal who was playing the occasional coffee shop gig only a year or so before this was recorded (and Willis has thankfully avoided picking up the wildly melismatic style that's so common in contemporary pop and R&B). But while Willis is good at what she does, she isn't great, at least not yet -- much of What to Say sounds like the work of a young musician who is still sorting out all the rudiments of her style (no great shame given that she was only 22 when she finished the album), and while tracks like "Love and Hate" lean toward the simple, acoustic-driven arrangements of her debut EP and show her to her best advantage, most of the songs have been given a splashier, horn-driven sound that tends to weigh her down a bit, and while she carries the burden with an admirable grace, every once in a while, she sounds as if she's gotten a bit lost on her own album. What to Say proves that Daphne Willis has a solid idea of how to write and how to sing; making a record is the next art she needs to master, though it's not hard to imagine she'll manage that with a little more experience.
- Release Date:
- Vanguard Records
Performance CreditsDaphne Willis Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Hand Clapping
Barry Green Trombone
Mike Haynes Trumpet
Kenny Malone Hand Percussion
Mike Payne Acoustic Guitar
Tim Lauer Acoustic Guitar,Harmonica,Percussion,Piano,Keyboards,Saxophone
Tim Lorsch Strings
Tom Bukovac Guitar
Mark Hill Bass
Ken Lewis Conga,Shaker
Tony Lucido Bass
Josh Fox Drums,Shaker
Mikky Ekko Background Vocals
Michael Payne Electric Guitar
Brandon Bell Tambourine
Dan Hansen Hand Clapping
Ryan Loftsgaarden Trumpet
Ryan Kolberg Bass
Nate Heffron Saxophone
John Cicora Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Wurlitzer
Technical CreditsGary Paczosa Producer
Tim Lauer Producer,Engineer,Horn Arrangements
Tim Lorsch String Arrangements
Stephen Shirk Producer,Engineer
Carrie Smith Art Direction
Daphne Willis Composer,Producer,Horn Arrangements
Brandon Bell Engineer
Dan Hansen Engineer
John Cicora Composer,Horn Arrangements
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Let me start by saying that I'm not just your average, run-of-the-mill radio listener. I've spent most of my 27 years completely absorbed in music. I play it, sing it, listen to it, breath it, and sleep it. Most of my time is spent listening to the greats... and very seldomly do I find anyone in today's music industrty that can grab my attention and truly keep it. Daphne Willis has got my attention. On first listen, it was her voice; soft and truly authentic rather than overdubbed and electrified. She has this amazingly soulful, incredible sound that she totally owns with such control. Beyond the sound that she is able to project, the next thing that totally struck me was her lyrics. Daphne manages to keep her songs fresh, modern, and engaging - putting her own unique spin to everything she does. She seemingly writes what she knows - and does so with a wit and charm all her own. Finally, the melodies that drive her music can range from a little brash to soulful and intimate and leave you craving more of her sound! I am captivated by her music and have listened to little else since I've discovered her. Daphne, you have my attention - and I'm looking forward to all you have to give us! I would (and do) recommend this album to everyone I know! Best wishes to you!
Daphne Willis's long-awaited full-length album is finally here and it is clear that this young female artist is ready to introduce herself to the world with her music and her words. "What to Say" has soul and power backing every song from the opening track "Everybody Else" to the wordy tune "Not Always Easy" and to the sweet melody in "Jim Thornton". This album demonstrates Daphne's wonderful capabilities of singing like Aretha Franklin to Norah Jones. Her short, catchy tunes will leave you shaking your hips and playing this album on repeat, but the real fun comes from her live performances that show what a great musician/singer/songwriter/entertainer Daphne Willis really is.
I was 'introduced' to Daphne's music in a recent Chicago Sun Times article and had to check out the music. What a great voice and fun acoustical combination she provides! I'm a big fan of singers like Brandi Carlile and KT Tunstall, and Daphne's tunes fit right in. Spent the entire bus ride down to Manteno Illinois with a middle school show choir listening to the latest album - what a way to tune out a bus full of kids!! Keep on crankin' 'em out, Daphne!
This album is pretty awesome. I've played it at least 45 times since purchasing a week ago and it's so enjoyable. Her voice is unbelievable.
Hey, if you're on the fence about buying this CD...get off and just DO IT! In fact, after you've purchased this very reasonably priced CD, get yourself to Daphne's website (www.daphnewillis.com) and find out when she will be playing at a venue near you! You won't be disappointed! This woman has a soul filled passion shown through her lyrics and her music that is hard to NOT embrace. She's orginal and very authentic! In fact, if you're lucky enough to attend one of her performances soon...save your ticket for posterity...because this gal is going to be hUgE!! Thank God Kevin Welk with Vanguard/Welk Music Group was on that American Airlines flight that just happened to be playing her tunes over the in flight radio station...or else we would all have missed out getting to know this amazing woman with her strong yet soothing vocals...who has the ability to just make everything all right just by listening to her sing. Rossana Davenport, Iowa
It's so nice to listen through a new cd and not come across any clinkers. This is happy music that puts Daphne's vocals front and center. Her voice has been recorded very well, the sound is quite genuine. Listening to this cd was a good start to the day this morning.
"What To Say" is an amazing debut album that is always at the top of my playlist! A sound all of her own and an inspiration of what I like to call New Chicago Soul best describes her sound. Songs such as "Not Always Easy" & "Yellow Dress" are my personal favorites, along with the ever popular "Bluff". If you see guy rocking out while driving a gold Camry on the NW Illinois Tollway and wonder what CD he might be playing.2 words.Daphne Willis!
I have had the chance to see Daphne perform live, and I have always been partial to live music, but this CD gives her tasty tunes a whole new flavor. With such BRILLIANT lyrics, and AMAZING vocals, Daphne Willis sets the bar for this genre of music. The album sounds so crisp and polished, and leaves you wanting more. The day this Album was released I quickly headed to the Davenport Barnes and Noble to pick it up, anxious to hear the new songs. I arrived at 2pm and was pleasantly surprised to see that there was only 1 copy left on the shelf. Glad to see that so many others are enjoying her music as much as I do, yet I was also glad that there was one left for me to purchase. Over all, this has to be the BEST album I have purchased in a very long time. Every song is a hit, and I can honestly say that it hasn't left my cd player in my car since the day I got it. Way to go DAPHNE!!! Thank you Vangaurd for giving such an amazing young singer / songwriter a chance to share her talent with the WORLD!!!
The soothing vocals of Daphne Willis with the original lyrics and music make her album nothing less than remarkable. I can't imagine someone hearing any of her songs not wanting to hear it again and again. Relatable yet true, the lyrics are for all generations, and the music is just a bonus. I wish her great success because I already know that the world would benefit even more from her success, just for a chance to hear her music.