Will Easley

Daddy B. Nice's #70 ranked Southern Soul Artist



Portrait of Will Easley by Daddy B. Nice
 



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"I Love You And Always Will"

Will Easley

Composed by Will Easley


"Wine and women,
I had it all.
When I was in trouble,
All I did was call.

Girl, you don't know
What you mean to me."

In a genre where bragging rights for vocalists are more hotly contested than any other contemporary musical form, singer Will Easley is still one of Southern Soul's best-kept secrets. Most insiders know Easley's mid-tempo dance single "Loop The Loop," which gained some playlist duty in 2008, and a substantial fraction of those fans are aware of his 2011 single, "Back In The Mood," a song more well-known by its most prominent couplet, "Put your clothes on/ Let's go to the club."

Both songs are distinguished by strong songwriting and crisp production unusually nuanced and detailed for Southern Soul, but what really makes them stand out is the hickory-hard singing style of Will Easley, who in technique and power is easily (no pun intended) one of the top twenty Southern Soul male vocalists recording today.

And yet, even amongst those listeners knowledgeable enough to have heard of him, very few have savored the finest anthem in the Easley catalog, a majestic love ballad called "I Love You And Always Will."

Listen to Will Easley singing "I Love You And Always Will" on MySpace while you read.

There are many reasons why Will Easley's song "I Love You And Always Will" has never basked on the sunny side of the street called "Marketing." One has to start with the artist himself and his collaborators. As is often the case in the marketing of creative endeavors (and deciding which song to push), it's always harder to see material from the inside-out.

The same phenomenon occurs in professional football, where insiders so often whiff on collegiate draft picks. By the time a college star's attributes have been analyzed, dissected and discussed for the umpteenth time, all perspective has been lost.

Then there's the "outsider" factor. Not only has Will Easley found it difficult to establish a recognizable brand in the jam-packed mosh pit that is 21st Century Soul, his California-based indie record label, CDS Records, has also had to work through a gauntlet of chitlin' circuit obstacles to secure its space on the scene.

Then there is this. In spite of his considerable talents, Easley's career has suffered for lack of a breakthrough hit, the one event that makes the Southern Soul audience sit up and take notice. "Loop The Loop" probably came closest to legitimizing Easley as a potential star, and "Back In The Mood" teased at it. Both songs exhibited hit-single traits without quite finding their audience.

One school of thought even suggests that Easley is too "country" (i.e. country-western) in his delivery. "Discovered" at the age of fourteen doing an onstage opening spot for (African-American country singer) Charley Pride in his hometown of Pensacola, Florida, Will Easley later specialized in country music during the eighties. "White" inflections still dominate much of his phrasing, lending his music a unique sound in the blues-based Delta.

But dozens of R&B stars--from Ray Charles and Clarence Carter down to Bobby Jones and Carl Sims--have dabbled if not immersed themselves in country music to the delight of at least some of their fans. None of these reasons have in and of themselves blocked Will Easley's on-ramp to success, and Easley would do well to give them no mind. As long as he perseveres, his stardom is assured.

However, it's incumbent upon Easley to resuscitate the unknown and unheard "I Love You And Always Will" and reissue it on a new disc. With essentially two albums, Sweet Sexy Soul and Smokin', under his belt and a third rumored to be on its way, Easley finds himself in the ambiguous position of moving on from his initial style (orchestral arrangements, passionate vocals, dramatic themes, of which "I Love You And Always Will" is the ultimate expression) to more mundane, chitlin' circuit-friendly topics and scaled-down deliveries.

"Get Loose," the first single from the upcoming album, finds Easley in the weird position of casting off even more of the sophisticated writing and arranging tools that gave his early work such luminosity, presumably in the quest to sound more conventionally and homogeneously Southern Soul.

Many of these recent songs--"Big Girls Ain't Moody," "Damn Fool," "Why You Wanna (Get Rid Of Me)" and others from the Smokin' album--work well (the three cited work very well), and Easley may still find success by trying to be more like what he thinks the market wants of him, but Easley should also recognize that while tracks like "Get Loose" from the upcoming album are a dime a dozen in contemporary Southern Soul, songs with the breathtaking depth and technical complexity of "I Love You And Always Will" are one in a million.

That "I Love You And Always Will" and "Don't Ya Like It" (Easley's sweet, mid-tempo Southern Soul song that started it all) didn't find a larger audience on their first outings wasn't because of any lack of worth on their part, only the starvation-diet airplay any aspiring unknown must endure.

To completely abandon the spectacular style ("I Love You And Always Will," "Your Love Amazes Me," "Back In The Mood," "Loop The Loop," "Don't Ya Like It") that got Will Easley to the "show," in other words, would be a mistake and the Southern Soul audience's loss.

With the break-out of such heavy-hitting, outsider acts as The Revelations featuring Tre' Williams and the female singer Lina, the case for a more pure, more technically-exciting, more instrumentally-real Southern Soul has never been more relevant.

"I Love You And Always Will" recalls The Temptations' "Papa Was A Rolling Stone." Its spectacular arrangement and ferocious vocal recall the heyday of producers Arif Mardin (The Rascals' "People Got To Be Free"), Quincey Jones (Michael Jackson's "Human Nature") and Thom Bell (The Spinners' "The Rubberband Man").

It's just around the musical corner from The Commodores' "Night Shift," Jackie Wilson's "Lonely Teardrops" and Al Wilson's "Show And Tell." This is exalted musical company.

In three and a half minutes that go by in a New York minute, the beautifully-chorded "I Love You And Always Will" balances a Lazy-Susan platter of lush, Temps-style strings, a haunting high guitar part (with fabulous swirls and echoes), a vintage female background chorus and Stax-style horns topped off by a spirited saxophone solo. Everything dovetails around Easley's authoritative, country-callous vocal.

"Pick me up
When I fell down.
When I was in trouble,
You were always around.

You just don't know
What you do to me.

And I love you,
And I always will.
And I want you,
And that's for real."

--Daddy B. Nice


About Will Easley

Will Easley was born in Pensacola, Florida in 1954. As a young teenager he won a local talent competition and opened for Charley Pride at Pensacola's Municipal Auditorium, beginning a lifelong musical vocation.

Easley entered the military (Army), where (like the young Mel Waiters) he served a musical apprenticeship entertaining troops at military bases. Upon returning to civilian life in the mid-70's, he worked for Redd Foxx Productions and promoted musical events in the South, and in the 80's Easley moved to Atlanta and began writing and recording songs as a hobby, specializing in gospel and country.

Easley's first professionally-released Southern Soul single, "Don't Ya Like It," appeared in 2000, and his debut album, Will Power--including the single--was released in 2001. Lawyer David Levin, the CEO of the indie label Nivel (or Levin spelled backwards) that published the CD, died of cancer not long afterwards and the label folded.

"Don't Ya Like It" and the Will Power CD gained some critical notice. However, the unfortunately-titled album soon disappeared, possibly confused with and overshadowed by the ongoing popularity of the Will Powers "Adventures In Success (The Power Of Positive Thinking)" 80's-era alternative novelty hit.

Will Easley moved from Atlanta to Montgomery, Alabama in 2008, and his Will Power album, augmented by three additional tracks, was re-issued that year by Carlsbad, California-based CDS Records under the title Sweet Sexy Soul.

The album's first single, "Loop The Loop," secured widespread notice for Easley in Southern Soul circles. In addition to "Don't You Like It," Easley's single from a decade earlier, the album featured the ballads "I Love You And I Always Will" and "Your Love Amazes Me" (also redone by Easley as "A Song For Mama"--see Tidbit #1 below).

Easley's follow-up album on CDS Records, Smokin' was released in 2011. Recorded in Montgomery, the majority of the songs on the album were written by Will Easley and his wife, Patricia Ann Crimes, with production by Easley and longtime Deep South producer Eric Perkins.

Smokin' spawned the chitlin' circuit single, "Back In The Mood."

A new single, "Get Loose," was released in October, 2011, from an upcoming album to be entitled Taking It Easley.


Song's Transcendent Moment

"Friends try to tell me
I need to put you down.
But they don't understand
You've always been around.

And I love you,
And I know you love me, too.

'Cause I love you,
And I always will.
And I want you,
Baby, that's for real.

You just don't know
What you do to me."


Tidbits

1.

February 25, 2012:

Will Easley is well-represented on YouTube. Here are some of the best selections.

Listen to Will Easley singing "Your Love Amazes Me" on YouTube.

Listen to Will Easley singing "Loop The Loop" on YouTube.

Listen to Will Easley singing "I Love You And Always Will" on MySpace.

Listen to Will Easley singing "Don't Ya Like It" on YouTube.

Listen to Will Easley singing "A Song For Mama" Live on YouTube.

Listen to Will Easley singing "Get Loose" on YouTube.

Listen to Will Easley singing "Wiggle When She Walk" on YouTube.

2.

February 26, 2012:

You've heard Bobby "Blue" Bland's hacking-phlegm snort during his songs in his later career. Will Easley inserts a novel and somewhat bizarre vocal mannerism into his songs. (Although, thankfully, not as strange as Bland's.) Your Daddy B. Nice describes it as "blubbering," and you can hear it on Easley's "Back In The Mood," "Why You Wanna" and select other songs.

Here is how Will Easley explained this vocal quirk to Heikki Suosalo of "Soul Express" in an April 2010 interview:

"A couple of times Will makes a sort of bubbling sound with his mouth by tapping his tongue against upper teeth and lip.

"'That's just an old trademark,' says Easley. 'Everybody has to have a signature. It's called scatting. It's been around for a long time, but people just don't do it anymore.'"





If You Liked. . . You'll Love

If you liked Lou Rawls' "Love Is A Hurting Thing," you'll love Will Easley's "I Love You And Always Will."


Honorary "B" Side

"Back In The Mood"



5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Love You And Always Will by Will Easley
I Love You And Always Will


CD: Sweet Sexy Soul
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
Sweet Sexy Soul


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Back In The Mood by Will Easley
Back In The Mood


CD: Smokin'
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
Sweet Sexy Soul


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Loop The Loop by Will Easley
Loop The Loop


CD: Sweet Sexy Soul
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
Sweet Sexy Soul


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy A Song For Mama by Will Easley
A Song For Mama


CD: Sweet Sexy Soul
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
Sweet Sexy Soul


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Big Girls Ain't Moody by Will Easley
Big Girls Ain't Moody


CD: Smokin'
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
Smokin'


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Don't Ya Like It by Will Easley
Don't Ya Like It


CD: Sweet Sexy Soul
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
Sweet Sexy Soul


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Why You Wanna (Get Rid Of Me) by Will Easley
Why You Wanna (Get Rid Of Me)


CD: Smokin'
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
Smokin'


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Your Love Amazes Me by Will Easley
Your Love Amazes Me


CD: Sweet Sexy Soul
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
Sweet Sexy Soul


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Damn Fool by Will Easley
Damn Fool


CD: Smokin'
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
Smokin'


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Hell On My Hands by Will Easley
Hell On My Hands


CD: Sweet Sexy Soul
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
Sweet Sexy Soul


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Got You by Will Easley
I Got You


CD: Smokin'
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
Smokin'


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Wiggle When She Walk by Will Easley
Wiggle When She Walk


CD: Smokin'
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
Smokin'


2 Stars 2 Stars 
Sample or Buy Show And Tell by Will Easley
Show And Tell


CD: Sweet Sexy Soul
Label: CDS

Sample or Buy
Sweet Sexy Soul


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