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WILLIE NELSON —GOD’S PROBLEM CHILD (Legacy Recordings, Sony Entertainment)

http://www.legacyrecordings.com

http://www.williwnelson.com

What can I say about Texas’ legend, singer-songwriter Willie Nelson that’s not be said, other than he is without doubt living proof real country music isn’t dead. God’s Problem Child is his 9th (since the series started in 2012) release for Legacy recordings, and once again he defies father time, his vocals still cut it. After seeing some of the recent shaky shots on You Tube I feared for the outcome of the album, but no his music still has soul, and the man himself a great deal of humour too!

 

Six of the tracks are co-writes with his old friend Buddy Cannon, and there is even one from Cannon’s mother, now 92 years-old Lyndel Rhodes “Little House On The Hill”.  What a delightful piece it is. Warmed in Mickey Raphael's trademark harmonica and Willie’s guitar, trigger it oozes traditional sounds rich in warmth.  Other songs outside Cannon and himself Willie pays tribute to his late old friend, Merle Haggard via Gary Nicholson’s “He Won’t Be Forever Gone” and the Jamey Johnson – Tony Joe White co-write, title-track “God’s Problem Child”. The boys, plus the late Leon Russell also contribute as vocalists, and in the case of TJW, some guitar too. A moody song that speaks of someone struggling to get out of the mud, and despite it all heaven must love God’s problem child. With TJW in particular sounding in top form it is a real treasure. Another imported cut is “Old Timer” (Donnie Fritts – Lenny LeBlanc), and given the wistfulness of the song (steeped in gentle acoustic guitar, harmonica, Wurlitzer (Jim ‘Moore’ Brown) and pedal steel (Bobby Terry) it has a prophetic feel.   

 

When it comes to regal beauty Nelson ticks all the boxes on “It Get’s Easier”, a pretty little piece his co-write with Cannon enjoys an understated production and, it has for company the equally fine “Lady Luck”. While with a little of old swagger and melody from yesteryear “I Made A Mistake” combines wry humour with a hooky feel to pull the listener in. Loaded in pedal steel, piano and harmonica it has hit written all over it! Picking up the tempo Willie and Buddy’s look at the American election and the outcome as “Delete And Fast Forward” speaks how it is all one big circle. Musically, it did little for me. Same might be said of the Mike Reid and Sam Hunter’s tune “A Woman’s Love”; Sonny Throckmorton – Mark Sherrill’s fares better. But it doesn’t hold a candle to Nelson – Cannon bright ‘n breezy, auto-biographical (Willie) “Still Not Dead”. A song that shakes off all the cobwebs! Additional musicians include Ben Haggard (guitar, harmony vocals) on “He Won't Be Forever Gone”, and Alison Krauss (harmony vocals) and a member of her band, upright bass player Barry Bales.  

 

                                                    Maurice Hope  

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Year 2016

1
Levi Parham
90 pts.
These American Blues
Music Road Records
GC,JBO,TK
2
Martha Fields
86 pts.
Southern White Lies
Independent
BP,BH,FB,JAB,RW,SP
3
Carter Sampson
75 pts.
Wilder Side
Independent/CRS
AN,CRS,JB
4
Anna Elizabeth Laube
65 pts.
Tree
Ahh...Pockets! Records
DH,NC
5
Michael McDermott
60 pts.
Willow Springs
Pauper Sky Records
BK,MM
6
Shovels & Rope
54 pts.
Little Seeds
New West
 
7
Robert Ellis
53 pts.
Robert Ellis
New West Records
DHO
8
Sturgill Simpson
52 pts.
A Sailor’s Guide to Earth
Atlantic Records
JJ,JF
9
Douglas Greer
50 pts.
Baja Louisiana
Zilker Park Records
HDB,ML
10
Lucinda Williams
46 pts.
The Ghosts Of Highway 20
Highway 20 Records
EM
11
Buddy Miller & Friends
44 pts.
Cayamo Sessions at Sea
New West Records
 
12
Wink Burcham
43 pts.
Cleveland Summer Nights
Continental Song City
 
13
Eric Brace & Peter Cooper
42 pts.
C&O Canal
Red Beet Records
BR
14
Brent Cobb
41 pts.
Shine On A Rainy Day
Elektra Records
HH
 
Daniel Romano
41 pts.
Mosey
New West
CVL
 
Leonard Cohen
41 pts.
You Want it Darker
Sony Music
HO
17
Christian Kjellvander
40 pts.
A Village: Natural Light
Tapete Records
BM
18
Drive-By Truckers
39 pts.
American Band
ATO Records
AR,EZ
19
Birds of Chicago
38 pts.
Real Midnight
Five Head Entertainment
LM,SZ
20
John Prine
37 pts.
For Better, or Worse
Oh Boy Records
FS,MB
21
The Cactus Blossoms
36 pts.
You’re Dreaming
Red House Records
GS,HD
22
Richmond Fontaine
35 pts.
You Can’t Go Back
Décor Records
FCE
23
Gillian Welch
34 pts.
Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Acony Records
LK,PR,TJ
24
Sarah Jarosz
33 pts.
Undercurrent
Sugar Hill
RM
25
Joe Purdy
32 pts.
Who Will Be Next?
Mudtown Crier Records
AL
 
The Devil Makes Three
32 pts.
Redemption & Ruin
New West

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