Orchestral rock outfit California, led by composer, performer, and producer Les Fradkin, returns with “Willin” – a soft-spoken but musically grand offering about one’s willingness to take a chance and claim a profound, meaningful life. With Fradkin tackling a majority of the singing and all the instrumentation – including a harpsichord, Mellotron, and electric bouzouki – “Willin” is a memorable, multi-layered track oozing with west coast ambience and positivity. Let’s break it down:
“Willin” begins with – and maintains – catchy, layered chords painted with 12-string guitar and that chiming electric bouzouki. Fradkin’s voice, simple and succinct, provides the lead vocal, which is complemented by his wife, Loretta Pieper Fradkin, to highlight various passages and elevate the chorus.
There are some nice breaks between the verse/chorus cycle – breaks bringing in Loretta’s supporting vocals, adding a west coast, Beach Boys-ish feel to this 70s-tinged tune. And at about 2:22, an electric bouzouki solo kicks in, playing us out as the song slowly fades to an audible – but not definitive – finish.
Originally written in 1972 with old bandmates The Left Banke (Fradkin has been in the industry – recording and performing – for quite some time), “Willin” was updated with positive lyrics – and this track absolutely emits sun-baked positivity.
Featured on Fradkin’s latest full-length release, California Loves You, “Willin” is another baroque pop masterpiece packed with elegant orchestration, appreciated vintage instruments, uplifting choral accompaniment, and that sunny, 1970s feel-good vibe. Recommended.
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