I Like It Down Here, is a fascinating look at the incredible singer/songwriter, Will Kimbrough, and the stories he tells through his lyrics and music. Whether wearing the producer hat, as he did for this album and for artists from Shemekia Copeland to Jimmy Buffett, or lending his guitar talents to artists like Todd Snider, or Rodney Crowley and EmmyLou Harris, Will always adds his unique style to everything he does. I Like It Down Here is a perfect example of that talent and a very worthy 9th solo album over the past 19 years recording his music.
Opening with “Hey Trouble”, Will and co writer Rich McCulley, mix blues lyrics with a pop melody to create what Will describes as a tribute to Tom Petty, and fittingly so. “I Like it Down Here” is a slow burning, Alabama/Louisiana feeling tune that, as Will said to Melissa Clarke in the Americana Highways interview (Interview: Will Kimbrough on “I Like It Down Here,” Alabama History and “To Kill A Mockingbird” :“ it’s a celebration of all these odd characters down south.” Both songs are wonderful ways to kick off the album and show Wills range of genre bending songwriting.
“Alabama” is the true story of Michael Donald, who was lynched in 1981 in Will’s hometown of Mobile, Alabama. More than just a statement of keeping the memory of Michael alive, Will went to highschool with Michael and tells the story of what happened that day and of bringing the murderers to justice. It was important enough for Will to suggest reading the book The Lynching by Laurence Leamer in his liner notes and I feel it’s fitting to also list it here as well.
“Buddha Blues,” my favorite of the album, is another deep south influences blues tune about the maximum security prison outside Birmingham, Alabama and the influential movie The Dhamma Brothers, that was the inspiration for the song. As with many of the songs on this album, there is a story behind each one and each one has some real weight to it. Will has a fascinating talent for taking a subject most wouldn’t attempt to tackle and making it into a great song that grabs your attention and makes you really think about what they mean.
Recorded at Blackbird Studios in Nashville by Kevin Becka and Jeremy Cottrell, the entire 10 song album is stacked with one great song after another and besides the main band of Will Kimbrough, Chris Donohue on bass, and Bryan Owings on Drums and percussion, there are some extremely talented musicians that contribute to the album. Shemekia Copeland, Savana Lee Crawford, Brigitte DeMeyer, Lisa Oliver-Gray, and Dean Owens lend their voices on various vocals through out the album. Anthony Crawford adds vocals, guitar, and pedal steel and Jim Hoke contributed those saxophones and horn arrangements on “It’s a Sin”.
After several listens to the album, I continue to find new things that I enjoy through the songs and will have it in my playlist for a good while. Will has both CD’s and Vinyl available through his website, https://www.willkimbrough.com/, or you can grab a digital download anywhere music is sold online. Whichever format you prefer, grab this album and spend some time soaking in all the nuances of this wonderful music.