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What I Deserve

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Album Review

ThIs effort from country singer Kelly Willis has a number of important things going for it. First of all, there's her voice, which is an almost archetypally perfect blend of sweetness and grit. Then there are her backing musicians — in particular guitarist Mark Spencer, who makes a recognizably country sound without overdoing it or descending into bathos and stereotype. Last, and very importantly, there's producer Dave McNair, who has crafted a beautifully balanced and full-bodied sound for the album without allowing things to get too slick and prettified. What's lacking, for the most part, are melodies strong enough to grab your interest and hold it. There are some hooks — "Take Me Down" is quite singable, and there's a great version of Nick Drake's "Time Has Told Me" — but they're relatively few and far between, and scarcity of hooks can be death for a country album. In this case the lack is far from fatal, but it's noticeable. Recommended with reservations.

Customer Reviews

My Favorite CD of All Time

I have been listening to "country music" for the better part of 40 years, and in that time I have bought a lot of albums (and CDs). This one is by far the best I have ever owned. The combination of Kelly's haunting voice and these songs is just unbelievable. If you listen once and aren't stricken, just wait until one day when you are feeling a little down and out... this CD will soothe your spirit and touch your core. If you are looking for catchy, feel-good tunes, this probably isn't the CD for you. But, if you are looking for something to touch you where you live... this is it!

Kelly is amazing

I've had this record since 1998 and I love it. Kelly's lyrics and singing are both honest, and thank heaven, not over-produced like so many pop-country records nowadays. She's the real deal. Truth, beauty, honesty.

Recommended without reservations

Country music is full of catchy tunes with a "hook". The "hook" is the downfall of country music. Kelly is a huge breath of fresh air. Every song on this album is great. Not slick and just the right edge. It is on my top ten list for sure!


Born: October 2, 1968 in Annandale, VA

Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Although the work of new traditionalist singer/songwriter Kelly Willis earned widespread critical acclaim, she found little in the way of comparable commercial success; her sound, a smart hybrid of country and rock, simply assimilated both musical styles too well to gain acceptance in either camp. Born in Oklahoma and raised in the Washington, D.C., area, she began performing in her boyfriend (and future husband) Mas Palermo's band at the age of 16. Her powerhouse vocals were so popular with club...
Full Bio
What I Deserve, Kelly Willis
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Customer Ratings