Will and the Won’ts – The Traveler

Coming from many different walks of life, but uniting in their mission to spread music, ‘Will and the Won’ts’ are a folk/rock band with their heads on straight and their music in order. Releasing their debut album titled ‘The Traveler’ earlier this year, the stand out feature of the group to me is their chemistry together. Creating music from the roots of Los Angeles, CA, band members Will Risbourg, Andrew Bilotti, Gui Bodi, Matt Salmons, and Sarah Grace make up the fabric to hold the creative and musical body that is “Will and the Won’ts’

Will and the Wonts - The Traveler

Starting off the album with a mid tempo number; ‘Dead and Gone’ is a smart choice to begin the album with; as it combines a bit of everything that makes up the DNA of ‘Will and the Won’ts’. The rhythm is enough to get your head nodding along, yet a lovely rise and fall flows throughout, giving a solid foundation for the vocals to rest upon. Just slightly under 3:00 minutes in length, it will intrigue you to want to listen to the rest of the album and see what’s left in store. Though musically the song is catchy, with a steady pulse of blended guitars and beat keeping, the chorus you can’t help but sing along to…

“And just to top it all off
Your love for me is dead and gone
Yeah just to top it all off
Your love for me is dead and gone”

Setting the stage with a well played build, drifting into a bridge that contains the best section musically; containing bass drums, a guitar solo, and nice harmonies from lead singer Will Risbourg and vocalist Sarah Grace. The song wraps up with a final round of the chorus, ending track one as a solid number, and a bit of a teaser to the rest of the album.

Continuing along to about halfway through, track four to be exact, comes one of my favorite songs on the album; ‘What’s In Your Mind’.

Rock and roll from start to finish, Will’s vocals are a standout part in this song; at times filled with such desperation and raw emotion, yet he maintains control and pulls back at just the right times to make it unique; and what I would expect to hear if I turned up at a live show. Starting off with a great guitar riff that carries throughout, I was snapping my fingers by the second measure. I was happily reminded of the Beatles and the impact of the riff in the beginning of ‘Come Together’, that completely made that song one of my favorites, and a hit. Though unlike ‘Come Together’ you can understand the lyrics and what is actually being said in ‘What’s In Your Mind’ without needing to be totally stoned; much credit to the band on that one.

“Well you’re jealous of the future
The future you don’t have
Where the breezes are lovely
And the winter never comes
Where those lies your mama told you
About eternal love
They’re as true to you as the moon and the sun”

An instrumental breakdown with an electric guitar solo that packs just as much energy and emotion as the lyrics evoke, pouring into a final chorus that keeps the same level of high energy that started the song. Border-lining on screeching, just slightly at the end, but pulled back at just the right moment. The song ends the way one might end a live show; where you may find yourself begging for an encore. But not to worry, there’s another 5 songs on the album…hallelujah!

An album wouldn’t be complete nowadays without at least one good love-song-gone-sad. ‘Will and the Won’ts’ deliver; with a slightly more upbeat twist to tradition in ‘Oh Angelina’. This isn’t the type of sad love song that you’ll be crying along with, but rather you might find yourself saying “Geez girl, you were crazy to leave that hot musician/singer/rock guy behind” (if you’re a girl that is), meanwhile, the chorus says it all:

“Oh Angelina
Oh you tore me down
Oh Angelina
I should know better by now”

The drummer plays such a big roll in this one, steady and strong with just the right stops and drop-offs to play into the overall images painted from the song. With no “big” moments to capture the listening ear, they rely on emotion, sympathy, and strong musicianship to make it memorable. I think what makes a band go from being good, to being great, is when they support the lead singer, fill the song, and shine at appropriate times; never competing for the spotlight. And that’s just what “the Won’ts” of the band Will do. Matt Salmons on piano, though sometimes hidden in the mix of guitar, bass and drums, adds a layer of flavor you can’t get from any other instrument; I particularly liked the piano on ‘What’s In Your Mind’ (did I mention it’s my favorite on the album?).

Not last nor least, comes album-titled song; ‘The Traveler’. In my opinion this song demonstrates the very best of guitar on the whole album, finger-picking style in some sections, including the intro; this one deserves to share names with the album cover. Sarah Grace’s vocals are delicate and beautiful, with superb harmonies carefully placed and thought through. A standout piano solo touches down, creating a moment to die for. This one competes as my favorite…am I allowed to have two favorites?

“Oh traveler
You’re far away from home
All your friends are alcoholics
You’re fearless yet alone
Your heart was broken by
Some girl so long ago
And she old you while she wept to you
That your heart was on her mind
The the reality of her kindness
Would be clear to you in time”

If I could write down the entire lyric sheet I would, it’s just that good. Very creative in it’s rhyming scheme and use of realistic examples and meaningful feelings; it’s so easy to relate to, no matter who you are, or what road you’re traveling on. The album in whole is very strong, including many touches of harmonica on songs I didn’t mention, but well worth the time to listen to them.

By Pranam Bai Richter
Head of Global Publicity, the Fish Pond
Singer/Songwriter, The Richter Sisters

You can hear more from Will and the Won’ts on their profile page here
You can purchase ‘The Traveler’ on their website here


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