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Customer Review

61 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New songs, western swing classics and contemporary pop covers, May 15, 2012
This review is from: Heroes (Audio CD)
Willie Nelson spent nearly two decades with Columbia, starting with his 1975 breakthrough (and first chart topper), Red Headed Stranger. He bounced around a number of majors and indies through the `90s and `00s, and now returns to the Sony fold via the company's Legacy division, an imprint known more for its vast array of catalog reissues than for new music. But as a heritage artist, it's a good fit, as Nelson revisits material from his catalog, chestnuts from the `30s and `40s, covers of recent pop songs, and new titles from his pen and that of his son, Lukas. The results are vital, and surprisingly coherent, if perhaps not always tightly focused. Covers of Pearl Jam ("Just Breathe") and Coldplay ("The Scientist") intermingle with Western Swing ("My Home in San Antone" and a terrifically jazzy "My Window Faces South"), `40s weepers ("Cold War with You"), and newly written originals.

The album's guests include Merle Haggard, Jamey Johnson, Billy Joe Shaver, Ray Price, and in a bit of stunt-casting, Snoop Dogg. Nelson's voice is more lined with frailty than in his prime, but his idiosyncratic phrasing plays well with the cracks in his tone. He's joined by his son Lukas on eight of the album's tracks, which is a bit much of the junior Nelson's higher, more nasal voice. More impressive are Lukas Nelson's original songs, including the father-son duet "No Place to Fly" and the painful memories continually resurfacing in "Every Time He Drinks He Thinks of Her." The elder Nelson's two new originals include the honky-tonk "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die" and the western gospel "Come on Back Jesus," each describing an element of Willie's faith. Nelson's still raising hell, albeit in a quieter, more personal way, and drawing on more than fifty years of writing and singing, his music is aging gracefully. 3-3/4 stars, if allowed fractional ratings. [©2012 Hyperbolium]
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 18, 2012 12:58:49 PM PDT
Eddie Jones says:
That history lesson is fine, but what about the music?
Why do you reduce a star? Don't like the history?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 17, 2014 2:36:40 PM PST
Dublin John says:
I agree. "Stunt Casting?" is in my mind a complete disregard for Willies already proven legacy of defying stereo types. The simple fact that a long haired, pot smoking country star idol has repeatedly either written or collaborated tunes for R&B/Gospel/Blues folks like Ray Charles... s/b a clear shot across the bow of anyone trying to pigeon hole him into something he is NOT. It's the kind of stereotypes other music icons try to escape... the fan base "claiming" rights to make him their own. Look... Willie even hangs out with short haired ex basket ball coaches. Come on... quit while you are behind.

Posted on Feb 17, 2014 2:50:22 PM PST
Dublin John says:
Love the diversity and a few of the tunes... including the one with Snoop Dog. To me there is probably no more a champion of "freedom and the right to be who you want to be" than Willie. How a long haired guy like him could straddle successful careers and genres of music like Country while living a life that pretty much scorns conformity and stereo types is one of the aspects - aside from his wonderfully unique spin on music - that make him a once in a lifetime music icon. I don't think "anything" Willie does is intended to be a "gimmick" as some folks have implied. He loves golf - minus the typical country club trappings - friends that span just about every musical world - and seems to do what he wants to do at the most basic level of enjoyment. I see him as a shinning example of an American populist who looks at taxes, stereotypes and our own assumptions as handcuffs to the world he would rather play in.
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