Kelly Willis is Back Being Blue, to take a color-coded cue from the title of her seventh album. It’s a shade she wears well. Long-patient fans will take a new record in whatever hue it comes, now that it’s been 11 years since her last solo release. The Austin-based singer/songwriter has hardly been MIA in the intervening years, having recorded and toured as part of a duo with Bruce Robison. But she’s setting the duet aside, at least as far as the spotlight is concerned. (Robison hovers just outside, as producer.). Hers is a solo voice again, but it’s not necessarily sotto voce: This is an album of songs about lonesomeness that also happens to be a cracklingly good time.
“I know I’ve been around through many different phases of my genre of music. Whether it was the New Traditionalist, or Alt. Country or Americana. I ought to be able to write a book about it all. But in spite of my long career, I still think of myself as a teenager! I still feel like the underdog who’s trying to find her way”
Blue definitely continues to be her color, but more than anything, she’s back feeling new.