The Willis Clan first shot to fame with their America’s Got Talent audition last year. Made up of 12 siblings ranging in age from 3 to 22, the gifted family impressed with their country-tinged take on “My Favourite Things” from the “Sound of Music”. With all four judges giving the act a thumbs up, they progressed, eventually reaching the quarter finals of the contest. Far from deterred by their elimination, they have since struck a reality TV show deal, currently airing on TLC and are touring Ireland this summer in support of their new album “Heaven”.
Featuring the seven oldest siblings, this is the group’s third album and it features a multitude of instruments and influences. Blending elements of pop and rock with country, bluegrass and Irish traditional music, there is a lot of talent on show here. On “Don’t Leave Me Tonight” there are shades of The Corrs, an act I feel The Willis Clan will be used to comparisons with. A bright and positive pop song with country style vocals and uplifting melodies, it is an apt summary of the band’s style.
The instrumental piece “Chasing Love” is outstanding. With a more rock-influenced sound than other efforts, it has a heavily distorted electric guitar backing with a complex tin whistle melody played over the top. The band sounds very tight and it is a great showcase of their musicianship, bearing more than a passing resemblance to Irish trad-rockers Horslips.
“Fair Weather Love” was a highlight for me. Opening with a soft guitar melody and keys, with the unique sound of the Uilleann pipes, it is a novel approach to a pop song. The vocals are excellent here and it culminates in a classic-rock meets trad guitar solo that fits perfectly.
Noteworthy also is “Heaven Reprise”, another instrumental piece, although this an altogether more downtempo affair. It is characterised by strings, keys and a very traditional percussion sound. A gentle and pretty track, it shows yet another facet to the abilities of this extraordinary young family.
Brimming with positivity and with seemingly endless talent, The Willis Clan are a group who look likely to have a bright future ahead of them, be it in music, dance, television or any other field of entertainment. “Heaven” is a very enjoyable album and I highly recommend going to see them perform live during the summer if you get the chance.