Twenty years after his solo debut, Will Lee has released his second album as a leader, entitled Love, Gratitude and Other Distractions.
“I’ve been busy,” Lee says with a bit of a laugh when asked about the long period between solo albums, and it’s a fair explanation. The veteran bassist keeps his schedule packed between his daily gig of playing in the CBS Orchestra for the Late Show with David Letterman, his commitment to the ultimate Beatles tribute band Fab Faux, and his work as a first call session player. (Check out the Stories Behind the Songs on some of Lee’s favorite tracks.)
The idea for the album sparked from the bassist playing one of his original tunes, “Miss Understanding” at a songwriters’ gathering. After a little collaboration, the song was fleshed out and the experience encouraged Lee to get the rest of his musical ideas together.
“You know, you have these little ideas and you think, ‘OK, that’s a great idea, but I wonder if it will ever blossom into a full song,’” he said. “It just got to the point where certain song ideas had been mulling around in my head for so long had to finally escape because there was no room left.”
The result is an eclectic yet incredible mix of songs that range from Beatles influenced rock songs to flowing jazz ballads to a modified Texas blues. It’s filled with a star-studded cast of musicians including Steve Lukather, Pat Metheny, Billy Gibbons, Peter Erskine, Akiko Yano, Steve Gadd, Narada Michael Walden, Bob James, Chuck Loeb, Allen Toussaint and Paul Shaffer. Lee also shares songwriting credits on the album with Willie Nile, Leni Stern, Oli Rockberger, John Tropea and Dave Delhomme.
The album has some spectacular, upfront bass moments on the songs “Papounet’s Ride” and “Smile,” but the focus is truly on the songs themselves.
“You have to support the song, number one. The song dictates what’s needed,” Lee shared. “For my tunes, I have the hardest time finding a bass part. My engineer just noticed this. He’s seen me do a lot of sessions for a lot of people in the last few years and he sees how easily I can zero in on exactly what to do for other people’s recordings, but I have the hardest times for my own. Most of the songs aren’t bass driven; they’re just songs.”
Love, Gratitude and Other Distractions Track List:
- Get Out of My Life Woman
- Miss Understanding
- Papounet’s Ride
- Fooled Him
- 1, 2, 3
- Simple Way to Say I Love You