Willem & Dakota, “Basically, Anyway” (Independent)

willem & dakotaWillem & Dakota’s Basically, Anyway is a slightly addictive, sometimes haunting, always hopeful 14 song CD. The band is Willem McCormick on guitar, bass and vocals; Dakota Emerson on vocals and percussion; Jay Cruz on bass and Perry Ostrin on drums. In Willem’s songwriting, you can feel the pull of the bayous, tugging on a local boy gone afar. Dakota’s harmonies, even when singing a sad tone, feel positive.

“Somewhere along the Way” is the story of falling in love, but giving up too soon. McCormick sings, “Should have stayed in Thibodaux a little bit longer/ Can I bribe you with some red beans.” Former John Denver sideman John Martin Sommers adds a plucky banjo line that helps carry the song through the middle chorus and pairs nicely with Dakota’s laid-back harmonic vocals.

“My Charlatan” is a guitar-led tune with a simple drumbeat and nice harmonies. Jamison Hollister adds pedal steel—an atmospheric counterpoint to the upbeat major chords. Willem and Dakota sing well together, each at times pushing or playing with the melody. While this is at heart a poppy song, there is enough minor to give it shape, an arc, and let you know it’s a love song. I really like what the pedal steel adds.

There is joy about this project that comes from people who love to make music, making music.