Blind Willies is a San Francisco band led by singer/songwriter Alexei Wajchman. They have released three previous records, The Unkindness of Ravens (2007) and Everybody's Looking for a Meal (2008) and Needle, Feather and a Rope (2011). These albums defined their growing sound and the current band of five musicians, accompanied here by various guests, span diverse genres with alternative country, mixed with some restrained rock and light classical in their use of instruments such as cello, trumpet, flute, accordion, banjo, harmonica and the standard guitars, and drums.
All the songs on this release concern freedom and the means by which we define it. Whether using the word as a tool or a badge, we can end up in a place where freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose with a Kris Kristofferson credit in the liner notes. Cremo Tango kicks off with a tribute to those who inhabited Auschwitz-Birkenau and is inspired by a story collection written by Tadeusz Borowski. It is a tango and played against the dark message contained in the lyric "Ladies & gentlemen, this way for the gas".
The view of the politics and atrocities of war continue with songs like 42 Jews and when we switch to personal relationships there is the freedom message of Break Fee and I Need a Woman. Singing with an earnest delivery, Alexi Wajchman certainly displays plenty of passion and the 15 songs come and go with pleasant playing from the band. However, the length of the release is probably working against it and a ‘less is more’ approach would have been of benefit overall.