On placing this, the latest from the Texas Outlaw on my player I hadn’t anticipated a great deal other than some interesting music, singing by Willie in his own inimitable style and that was about it! Boy, was I soon to be proved wrong because all the Willie Nelson magic of old was present. I am talking Red-Headed Stranger (1975) standard, his song ‘Roll Me Up’ isn’t only a wonderful written piece but his vocals are like they were all those years ago. No kidding, this is vintage Willie! Plus, with much of the album soaked, perfectly in steel guitar (Mike Johnson), piano, B-3 organ, electric guitar (Bobby Terry, Lukas Nelson) and harmonica (long-time road and studio band member, Mickey Raphael) the arrangements couldn't be better.
Willie’s son, Lukas sings and plays on most of the album. Plus he also wrote two and co-wrote another of the album’s best songs, and with people like Tom Waits, Buddy Cannon, Fred Rose, Floyd Tillman and his father featured on others that says a great deal, and with a voice showing traces of his father and unique vocal style of Jimmie Dale Gilmore his work is decidedly tasty. On ‘Every Time He Drinks He Thinks Of Her’ and ‘No Place To Fly’ that contains the same halting feel Willie’s does (as a heap of great vocalists also come to mind at different times), then there are the lyrics ‘the road is getting shorter and I think the weed is getting stronger….I know I am still young and I can only get older.... /hanging weightless in the sky/ like an angel with no place to fly/everyday I get stoned I sit and try and write a song/ the road is like a river but sings when I am alone’. Aided by his father plus, cleverly woven steel, electric guitar, piano and harmonica this is a magical cut. It is like Willie and Bob Dylan’s best lyrics rolled into one with the striking beauty of the former the governing factor. ‘Every Time….’ is a rambling affair that is very much Jimmie Dale, especially with the superb steel guitar and brittleness to his vocals (and trademark nasal whine).
Lukus (who is only 22) has a distinctive style, and with him partnering Sheryl Crow and Willie on Tom Waits he isn’t fazed one iota of having the former join them. There is also the little matter of the quality of the song, the aching passion and B-3 organ and harmonica support. Others (without Lukas) of note include a remake of his song ‘A Horse Called Music’ (the title-track of an earlier album) that gains in standing through Merle Haggard joining him on vocals. Billy Joe Shaver adds his weary, battered tones to ‘Hero’ alongside the wonderful and underrated Jamey Johnson (I love the sound of Willie’s guitar). Johnson also sings great on the standout and most humorous ‘Roll Me Up’ (alongside Snoop Dogg and rough as they come vocals of Kris Kristofferson).
‘My Window Faces South’ is given a jazzy treatment and like with the lazy-paced ‘Cold War With You’ (with Ray Price) it offers nothing new but you might love it! ‘Just Breathe’ (Pearl Jam) from Eddie Vedder has father and son combine impressively on the tender piece. While ‘Home In San Antone’ swings along like crazy as Willie hits the road running (more Nelson guitar), and though on first hearing felt I had heard sufficient versions. No matter how fine the piano, harmonica, lead, steel guitar, vocals and fantastic rhythm section playing and of the classic but as in the words of Willie ‘a great track! I am not one for arguing, talking of great cuts then ‘Come On Back Jesus’ written by Willie, Cannon and Micah Nelson who adds his vocals to those of the other Nelsons is a great piece and set to become a huge live favourite! Closing it all we have ‘The Scientist’ (Coldplay) and like all those before there is much to savour, this time with Willie out on his own he strips it bare and sings in intimate fashion.
Add a Comment