Too tired from raising three children to write original music, Kelly Willis entered the studio ready to record cover tunes. Gratefully, she found her muse with collaborator/producer Chuck Prophet. Willis’s first new album in five years is also her best. At turns sly, clever, upbeat and sweet, “Translated From Love” pairs her honey-throated warble with a range of influences and co-writers.
Iggy Pop’s “Success” has an organ riff lifted straight from “96 Tears,” while “Teddy Boys” reverses genders, but stays true to its rockabilly roots. Another good rave-up, “Nobody Wants To Go To The Moon,” is musically lean and lyrically limber. There’s a nice balance of tempos; the beautiful waltz “Stone’s Throw Away” and “Too Much To Lose,” an ode to the challenges of married life sung with husband Bruce Robison, are particular standouts.
The record’s universality is part of its’ charm; the gently loping “Sweet Little One” could be about a child or a lover. The same could be said for “The More That I’m Around You,” a harmony-rich rocker with a very un-country dose of keyboards.
Kelly Willis has flown under the radar for some time. “Translated from Love” has the potential to change that – if family life doesn’t get in the way.