April 19, 2011
Daphne Willis celebrated the release date of her sophomore album Because I Can (Vanguard Records) with a show at Milwaukee’s Shank Hall on April 19, 2011. The prolific Nashville-based singer-songwriter culled the final cuts on the album from a writing spree that found her crafting over 50 songs during the creative process. Though far from a household name at this point, Willis is quickly becoming one of the brightest stars in the realm of indie darlings and her sound is at the crossroads of pop infused alt-folk music with smatterings of blues, jazz and soul. It’s an eclectic mix that crosses boundaries of style in ways that are unexpected and refreshing.
Willis certainly has no problems with self-expression, and her confident stage presence allowed her to project her alto voice in a manner that really showcased her dynamic range.Â Her unique vocal style eased gracefully and maneuvered an entire octave without sounding over sung.
With her trademark goggles around her neck, Daphne took the stage after a soulful acoustic opening set by Chicago guitarist Dave Tamkin and played a set that was heavy on her new songs.
The show was without a doubt energized by the gravity associated with the worldwide release of her most accomplished work to date. The live show did lack the brass section that helps bring the record to the full sound that it possesses, but it didn’t lack the intensity and subtle vocal nuances that elevate such songs like her current single “I Will Be Waiting” or the gritty “Spit It Out.”
For the most part Daphne played from a handwritten set list that served as more of a guide than anything else. She picked her songs as she went along, letting the mood take her on the musical journey for the evening. One thing that is particularly striking about her music is that her songs are concise, well constructed, starkly honest and unpretentious in nature, which on this evening allowed them to convey relatable elements of the human condition upon the listener.
Setlist (Taken from Willis’ notes)
One By One, Bluff, Love + Hate, Anyone There ?, Weatherman, Sad, Circumstances, Single Day, I Will Be Waiting, EE (Everybody Else), Do What Ya Want, Fix, Shake It Off
CLICK THE THUMBNAIL TO VIEW THE PHOTOS from the evening with Daphne Willis by John Schulze