Shreveport, Louisiana-born singer-songwriter Willie Jones first came to the attention of music lovers when he was a contestant on the second season of The X Factor US in 2012. Jones was mentored by Demi Lovato and eliminated during the first live show when he was put in the sing-off. Since then Jones has been working hard on his music and he released his debut single for label 4 Sound / Empire, Runs in Our Blood, in May 2018. Buzz has been building since then and Jones kicked off his opening slot on Michael Ray’s debut headline UK tour last night, which was part of Country Music Week.
Describing his music as having Country, Soul and Hip-Hop influences, Jones is an interesting proposition. Accompanied on stage by a guitarist and a DJ/hype man, Jones definitely got the crowd warmed up. When I spoke to him earlier in the day, he promised a high-energy show and that’s exactly what he delivered. Opening with Let the Music Move Your Soul, Jones barely dropped the tempo over his 8-song set and his charisma and talent oozed from the stage.
Runs in Our Blood was one of the first stand out moments as Jones showcased his distinctive blend of Country and Hip-Hop. The audience was definitely feeling it, frequently throwing their hands in the air and dancing throughout the set. Back Home, one of the more stripped-back moments, showcased Jones’ talent best as he was able to let his voice shine away from the beat-driven feel of much of his set.
Elsewhere Jones grooved out to the soulful pop of Windows Down, caused a sing-a-long with his bop of a new single Whole Lotta Love, and picked the tempo back up with the party track Bachelorettes on Broadway. He brought his set to a close with his breakthrough single Down For It, a song that fits well with the modern Country sound dominating the radio airwaves in the US.
There wasn’t a whole lot to fault about Jones’ performance. He performed with so much energy that it was hard not to be swept along with the party. Inevitably he’s going to attract conversation about how Country his music is and personally I’d like to hear a more stripped-down version of his set without the DJ/hype-man so I could really appreciate the richness of his voice. Jones won himself plenty of fans last night and he certainly warmed the crowd up. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Country genre reacts to him and I’ll be keeping an eye out to see what he does next.
Set list: 1. Let the Music Move Your Soul 2. Runs in Our Blood 3. No Telling 4. Windows Down 5. Back Home 6. Whole Lotta Love 7. Bachelorettes on Broadway 8. Down For It Performance date: 22nd October 2019