Album: Lost In The Shadows
By: John Verburg
I’ve spent some time in Kalamazoo, and while I can’t say that I remember seeing Kalamazoo band Willamena live, I can say I have heard of the band. Willamena have themselves quite a loyal following, and if Amazon.com is any indication, they have a following that extends itself much further than the West Michigan area.
First impressions are often everything in music, and in this case, my ears are telling me that Willamena is a band that has large aspirations. Their music is ready made to fill arenas and I would feel comfortable putting them in the adult alternative category, even if bands rarely like to categorize their music. I’m going to toss out a reference you just aren’t going to see in music reviews out there, but Willamena reminds me of a 90’s band from St. Louis called Stir. For more recognizable references, I would go with Collective Soul, latter day Live, and a sprinkle of Train giving their straight forward rock sound a nod to Americana.
‘Lost In The Shadows’ isn’t particularly ground breaking, but what it may lack a little in ingenuity, it often makes up for it in confidence. Highlights for me included fourth track ‘Edge’ which has a bit of an edge, with lead singer Lucas Ross ratcheting up the growl in his voice a little bit. ‘Oklahoma’ is a catchy acoustic number. And album closer ‘The Things That I Forgot’ is a breezy acoustic number that wears its’ heart on its’ sleeve, and wearing their heart on their sleeve is something Willamena does really well.
Honestly, Willamena aren’t a band these days that I would seek out, but that certainly doesn’t mean they don’t have a place in the landscape of rock n’ roll these days. In fact, I would venture to guess their live show is pretty amazing, because you can tell these guys believe in the music they are playing, and by the time you leave a show of Willamena’s, you might be humming a few bars of their music.