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CD Review: Freaks Like Me by Daphne Willis

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Freaks Like Me by Daphne Willis

Nashville based singer-songwriter Daphne Willis has been a staple on the music scene since she released her debut EP, Matter of Time, almost ten years ago. But her musical journey began long before that. With a mother who is a classically trained vocalist and a father who worked as an audio engineer for Sony, Willis has had music running through her veins since she was born. But it wasn’t until her college days at DePaul University that she took the stage and fell in love with performing. She’s never looked back. With multiple releases and collaborations with people such as Meghan Trainor under her belt, Willis’ career continues to soar. Her latest LP, Freaks Like Me, is available now.

Freaks Like Me opens with the title track and it’s the perfect intro to the “show” that follows. With a slowed down carnival feel, jazzy instrumentals and sultry vocals, it’s as if Willis is opening her arms and welcoming in anyone who has ever felt different. Willis is talking to the outliers, the freaks who struggle to find their place in a society that imposes its idea of normal and doesn’t want to invite them to their party. Note to the freaks, Willis is having her own party and she wants you to come on over.  But just so you know, her party is drug free as she clearly announces on “Dopamine,” an uplifting track about a positive alternative to the drugs that keep you down. You can feel the high-on-life vibe in her vocals which combine hip hop, soul and a touch of R&B.

Staying on her message of positivity and inner strength, “Out of the Black,” is a funky survival type song about fighting back to rise from your own ashes, something Willis proudly knows a thing or two about doing. My favorite track on Freaks Like Me is “Somebody’s Someone.” A ballad with emotive piano playing and a purity of lyrics complimented by her visceral vocals, you can feel Willis’ heart on this one and it’s hard to forget. This song stays with you and it should. It should also be on the rotation of every radio station in the country.

Freaks Like Me hits its halfway point with a couple of tracks that are impossible to listen to without cracking a smile. The mid-tempo “Keep on Keeping On” falls somewhere on the pop rock scale without ever tipping to a particular side. The sound and vocals are both crazy catchy and create the sense of putting one foot in front of the other to constantly be moving forward. “Lose Control” continues the feel good vibe with a laid back, accept life as it is and keep rolling with the punches attitude. It is the most musically interesting track on the release in that it doesn’t stay inside any one box. Willis gets to stretch her vocal range all while horns, whistles and an organ, among other instruments, come together making you want to get up and dance before she changes things up on “Just a Little Bit.”

Things slow down on “Unafraid.” Despite its somewhat somber feel, there is a positive self-empowerment rallying cry here that calls for everyone to handle life as it comes and to not let fear keep you trapped on the dark side. As usual, the vocals are impressive.  Freaks Like Me closes in perfect fashion with “The Letter.”  Mellow, reflective and introspective, “The Letter” has an alt-country sound to it and is another track that should be playing on the radio somewhere.  Stripped down to little more than Willis’ vocals, an acoustic guitar and a piano, the honesty in the lyrics represent what this latest release has been all about.

Filled with positivity and bringing some personal experiences to the mix, Willis manages to produce an LP that is loaded with feel good songs while still maintaining an authenticity to her sound. She believes in what she’s singing and you can feel it. Firing on all cylinders, Freaks Like Me, might just be Willis’ best work yet. Grab your copy today and let us know if you agree!

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