Chris Pierce’s Rootsy Soul Elevates The Diverse ‘Let All Who Will’

Chris Pierce
Let All Who Will
(Friends at Work/Downtown Distribution)
4 out of 5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

Chris Pierce got on stage for the “Songs of 1972” show during AmericanaFest 2022 and blew the doors off a packed joint by tearing into two covers from Bill Withers. The electrifying brief performance, bathed with soul and intensity, had the crowd asking each other, “Who IS this guy?”

It’s a reasonable question, although the California native has been skirting the edges of socio-political folk and soul for nearly three decades. A 2005 opening slot for Seal helped establish his exposure and Pierce’s songs placed in popular TV shows—A Million Little Things and This Is Us—also resulted in some crossover acclaim.

He has been releasing largely acoustic albums every few years since the early ‘00s, with the well reviewed American Silence (2021) introducing him to a larger Americana audience, a logical genre for his politically charged folk/indie/soul/pop to resonate. He returns with Let All Who Will, which ought to yield even greater acclaim.


Pierce’s voice, somewhat similar to that of Ben Harper, soars with a combination of alternately soft and powerful dynamics. He effortlessly shifts from a Withers-styled husky soulful croon to a booming howl, making his live shows commanding. His music changes too; from the thumping Bo Diddley beats of “Home” and the Jim Croce/jaunty Southern rocking of “45 Jukebox” to the funky Steely Dan jazzy vibe in “Overdue” and the laid back melodic singer/songwriter urgency, complete with chilling falsetto, of “We Can Always Come Back to Us,” the latter featured on This Is Us

He goes Dylan, complete with raw harmonica, revisiting the title track from “American Silence” where the chorus of American silence is a crime…we sing through the pain, we keep on marching on reflects his defiant stance. Pierce displays his diverse influences by bringing some Sam Cooke to the sweet “Magic and Light” and the righteous “Meet Me at the Bottom,” then proves just how moving The Cars’ hit “Drive” is stripped down to its core, infusing his best Donny Hathaway to the contemporary classic.

With 15 selections clocking in at almost an hour, there’s plenty to chew on, both musically and lyrically. Pierce doesn’t blow you away with his vocal prowess, preferring to lay back and let his smooth yet insistent approach carry these roots/pop gems. Backing musicians generally stay on low boil, allowing their voice and words to do the heavy lifting.    

Little here reverberates with the passion and ferocity with which he delivered those Withers tunes live. But Let All Who Will is a superbly crafted set infused with plenty of uplifting messages, that should bring much-needed visibility to one of America’s most talented, gifted, and affecting artists.

Courtesy Hearth PR

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