This weekend’s launch celebration for native musician Paul Willson’s new album Fruits of the Underworld might be in contrast to some other you might have attended: Not a single instrument might be performed.

Instead, attendees at this Saturday’s occasion at Highpoint Art Gallery are inspired to carry their very own headphones and hearken to the album through smartphone whereas perusing artwork impressed by or associated to Willson’s music. The lack of a musical efficiency can be a COVID-19 security measure, as is Willson’s choice to not carry out his introspective album dwell.

“This music lends itself to a bit extra contemplation than a loud, busy bar,” explains Willson. “It’s nearly extra like an artwork exhibition. That is my intention.”

Inspired by the trauma of the pandemic, Willson’s eighth album explores themes of grief, lack of management, anger and the seek for which means. A licensed medical social employee who studied music at Virginia Commonwealth University, Willson says he confronted a variety of melancholy and anger throughout his day-to-day work.

“This [album] I’m getting into marriage to be an artist and a therapist extra deeply than ever earlier than,” says Willson. “This music is basically geared in direction of interpersonal and intrapersonal work. … The interior work you do in your individual private journey and in addition the work you do in relationship with others.”

Touching on the parable of Eurydice and Orpheus, environmental points and the prison-industrial complicated, the album nonetheless maintains a humanistic spirit even in its darker moments. Like his earlier albums, “Fruits of the Underworld” options Willson on a wide range of devices together with guitar, fiddle, tin whistle, synth and accordion. It additionally options Kevin Johnson on drums, synths by Eric Godsey and Gabriel Jessee, bass by Evan Sarver and Godsey, and backing vocals by Hannah Standiford on one monitor. Musically, Willson describes the album as “composed preparations with some room for improvisation” with components of jazz, classical, rock, singer-songwriter, conventional Irish folks music and hints of North Indian music.

Willson’s musical journey in Richmond started in 2007 when he joined VCU. Willson was quickly drawn into the native jazz scene by Butcher Brown as a sideman in Use the Vastness alongside Reginald Chapman, who at present performs trombone within the ditch of Broadway’s “Hadestown,” and Devonne Harris – who now performs as DJ Harrison. Willson then led Old Soul, a contemporary jazz/singer-songwriter-style group that included Harris, Sarver, David Hood of No BS! Brass Band and Marcus Tenney from Butcher Brown and Tennishu. Willson has additionally beforehand hosted songwriter showcases at Camel and was a member of Indonesian folks group Rumput.

Musically, Willson says he is a little bit of a “stressed seeker.”

“I do not assume any of my albums are just like the others past a sure level. You can by no means discover me in the identical place for too lengthy,” he says. “I really feel like I continue to grow, and what I really like and am impressed by retains altering as I maintain altering.”

One of his favourite songs on the brand new album is “The Grip,” which he says is a metaphor for when folks change into too centered on being in charge of their lives.

“It turns into melancholy and anger,” he says. The music is “a lot about battle and standing your floor and saying no to unhealthy issues.”

Willson’s occasion on Saturday will characteristic works by Willson’s uncle and internationally famend artist Robert Patierno, Willson’s mom Diane Willson, Dave Decker, Annie Ward Love, Wyatt Ramsey, Mishari Alduwaisan and Willson’s late sister Marigene. All proceeds from the occasion go to the nonprofit Innerwork Center’s packages that educate mindfulness to healthcare professionals.

As somebody who’s all the time involved with issues of the human thoughts, Willson emphasizes the necessity to discover unfavorable feelings.

“We’re very restricted in how we speak about them and the way we give ourselves area and assist to course of and develop from them,” says Willson. “The album is, in a means, a daring assertion that for those who are inclined to the underworld with love and care, there might be rewards, and the rewards are nicely value it. The fruit may be a bit odd in some methods, however it’s the stuff that offers us the deepest shades of our persona.”

The Fruits of the Underworld launch celebration might be held on January 29 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Highpoint, 3300 W. Broad St. Pay what you’ll be able to, a steered donation of $5 to $20.


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