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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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May 2018

1
John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
JJC,MB,SP,RM
2
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
CRS,JB,TK
3
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
HDB,CVL,DHO
4
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
JDO,LK,BK
5
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
MA,JBO,HB
6
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
7
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
MF
8
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
9
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
 
10
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
JV
11
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
 
Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
HD
 
Pharis and Jason Romero
27 pts.
Sweet Old Religion
Lula Records
SZ,LM
14
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
KG
 
Old Crow Medicine Show
24 pts.
Volunteer
Columbia Records
GF
 
Will Stewart
24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
17
Ben Reel
22 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
GC,FC
 
Birds Of Chicago
22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
 
 
Emily Herring
22 pts.
Gliding
Eight 30 Records
RST,RH
20
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
PJ,FS,JJ
 
Mary Gauthier
21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
22
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Years
Bloodshot Records
FCE
23
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
Independent
HM
24
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Independent
 
25
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental

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