Erick Willis is a young artist with a voice that’s seen some things. It’s smooth and wise like a whiskey barrel from east Tennessee. Willis has been on a steady climb into larger notice on the strength of this voice. His previous studio efforts were decent for a young kid, but much like Josh Weathers always had issue with, they failed to match the awe inspiring nature of the live show. Flood Gate, dropping January 22 and recorded in Austin, matches that level of live intensity and authenticity. The smooth, soulful vocals still abound, and now the production matches it. As a vocalist, that rich aforementioned instrument is eerily similar to that of the aforementioned Weathers on many of these tracks. The Wichita Falls native Willis never oversings, yet manages to pack each syllable and vocal run with just the right punch to metaphorically knock the listener out. The title track leads this set off and is an upbeat rambler detailing a specific story that describes life’s adventures for most of us. “I Can’t Stop” is a cool, boozy fresh take on a love song. The irreprissibly beautiful and talented Haley Cole pops up for a guest spot duet vocal on the album closer, “Before Too Long”. The gospel tinged collaboration provides a perfect bookend to the collection of soulshined originals. Willis is a young artist who has found his own style in the musical veins of Waylon Payne and Stoney LaRue. Flood Gate cements his status as one to watch and establishes him as an artist with a unique artistic vision.
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