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Is Bunny the album that blasts Willie J Healey into that much-deserved spotlight?

Is Bunny the album that blasts Willie J Healey into that much-deserved spotlight?

Willie J Healey - Bunny

It’s been a long burning fuse leading up to the dynamite you’ll soon know as BunnyTiger Woods, the introductory track of the album, was released on 29th July last year. Somewhat a reflection of Willie J. Healey’s ten years in the game; eager to share, but in no rush for deadline’s sake. 

As he puts it, “In the past, I would’ve tried to shape my musical future, but this time I completely let go.”

It pronounces the main ingredient of Bunny– time. Time spent with himself and time battling the beast known as The Breakthrough. Healey was dropped by his label after the first album. His influence stems way back from the ‘70s with the likes of Sly & The Family Stone, and Philly soul and mixed with hints of David Bowie – which only confirms it’s his own experiences that provide any new flavours.

There was always a hint of melancholy in his earlier work. People and Their Dogs comes from a belief that art must be moody; which is now apparent from recent interviews that this was a cloak. It’s his time to shift to feel-good love songs, a place that is much more authentic and rewarding to him. “I just can’t stop writing about love.”

He’s always come across as a confident writer and performer, creating music on his own plane of truth, but Bunny feels like a true leap.

All these years he’s been at the side of the stage, hearing cheers from adoring fans behind big closed curtains and it’s now that these curtains are heaved open and he has to run on stage blinded by the spotlight beaming down on him. He just has to keep those curtains open for long enough.

I have full faith it will. Here’s why.

First off, Healey’s earned an entourage of celebrity fans on this journey of his who have given him great acclaim and supported him on his album launch ascent. We’re talking Alex Turner, Joe Talbot of IDLES, Jamie T, Orlando Weeks and Florence Welch here and supporting Arctic Monkeys and Florence and the Machine on their tours.

Coming off the back of these much larger shows, the size of which he’s never tasted, he’ll have greater confidence when it comes to touring Bunny

Second is the feeling behind the album. We saw this new experimental side creeping through in Twin Heavy, Healey’s second album, but the strong, seductive, ‘70s-style basslines and funk-tasting guitars really grooved themselves out on Bunny.

Dreams earned its place on my Spotify wrapped in 2022 despite only being released in October. It’s Willie J. Healey on steroids. The signature falsetto, beaming backing vocals and hip-grooving bassline have you stripped down to your socks and sliding around your kitchen floor (or maybe something a bit more appropriate if you have company).

It features the same drum machine that hovers around the album like an elusive clock in a film that has an impending disaster. The drum machine that’s actually borrowed from Jamie T who features on Thank You. Another standout track of the album that features the monumental sexy groove that drives this album from start to finish.

Now, let’s drift to Black Camaro. It’s not just a song; it’s a daydream set to music. A memoir-esque song that you’re likely to see scrolling atop an Instagram reel featuring a lazy sunset.

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Little Sister is probably the closest extension from earlier work, but his voice is much more prevalent in the production of these tracks; a move that will boost the success of this album. 

The album concludes with an example of the maturity Healey’s gained over time with Blue Bird, the brass-coated piano track. “I did a bad thing, but it felt so good. If love is so easy why does it break my heart?” – If it doesn’t have you pensively looking into the distance, you’re not listening properly.

They all fit into a soundtrack of a late evening road trip, more so than Arctic Monkey’s The Car. Not just any car though. A car that’s seen a lot, but still shinier than most. One that’s worked on daily for the three-hour ride on a Sunday.

It has the same feel of experimentation as a ‘90s rap album with telephone snippet intros and a plethora of guest features.

Finally, the change is significant enough that Bunny can win a new wave of fans yet holds enough of his dry character to satisfy his seasoned fans without the hums of him ‘selling out’. 

It’s the final 2-pence piece that tips that stack of coppers over the edge of the arcade coin machine. Y’know, those ones that have been there the whole time, teasing him, edging closer each time. If he’s lucky, there’ll be Batman’s driving licence on there too as a bonus.

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