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WILLIE NELSON —LAST MAN STANDING (Sony Legacy) CD / VINYL

www.willienelson.com

www.legacyrecordings.com

How does he do it? Willie Nelson despite the fact he is 84 years he is still adding fuel to a flame that’s burnt brightly and otherwise ever since he came to Nashville in 1960 (the first time he enjoyed a steady gig that is; it been as bass player in Ray Price’s band, The Cherokee Cowboys). Within a couple of years nudging onto the singles’ chart. Texas-born and Texas proud, Nelson is somewhat an American institution. A genuine survivor that’s for sure. 

Partnered, as he has been since 2008 by long time collaborator Buddy Cannon. Cannon has produced over a dozen of Willie’s albums, and claims Willie to be a jazz singer and jazz player ‘he’s an improvisational musician. It’s different every time’. The stalwarts come through with 11 new most credible songs. Utilising generous helpings of humour and philosophy their songs stand up well, likewise the picking it too is tasty, and with the likes of seasoned band member Mickey Raphael's harmonica never far away ever colourful. 

Title-cut “Last Man Standing” opens the record, and true to its title it speaks of how he has out-lived so many of his friends, people like Merle (Haggard), Waylon (Jennings) and Ray (Price). “Me And You” is as good as it gets, and with Nelson kicking up his heels and trotting out at speed the listener won’t be able to resist the song, and press replay! You’ll find it near as addictive as Willie finds weed. As for Cannon’s claim regards Willie being a jazz singer I have to disagree. He has his own, distinctive yet simple Willie Nelson style. Albeit “Something You Get Through” offers a lazy, but not too lazy a tempo as his voice is supplemented by tasty guitar, harmonica and organ. On past occasions he has struggled to hold my attention on the likes, but here the production and warmth of his tones win me over.  

Cooking up a storm he breezes through gospel warmed “Don’t Tell Noah” (plied in sparkling harmonica, piano and harmony vocals it rocks), and with a melody similar to one of his classic cuts of the 1970s “Bad Breath” is slower and humourus as another song about mortality figures. “Ready To Roar” is a near cousin to the old western swing tune “Stay All Night, Stay A Little Longer”. Superbly presented, it offers all the looseness of a good ol’ fashioned honky tonk Texas Friday night. Follow that anyone! Nelson does just that with “Heaven Is Closed”, and he again touches on some of his past melodies (“Heaven Or Hell”), and with the band cooking up more tasty picking he swings his way through the pedal steel plied “I Ain’t Got Nothin’” like he was a young buck. More Nelson swing blossoms on the likewise killer “She Made My Day”; that sports some great lyrics, and with more than a little humour there is another choice offering and some tasty notes from Trigger (Willie’s guitar) plus sterling pedal steel, harmonica and piano. It sounds more like a show finale than just another song! 

By now Nelson is closing in on the home straight he comes through with steady, reflective ballad that muses of reincarnation on I'll Try To Do Better Next Time", and of how he has lived what is a colourful life. Finally he performs a deeply founded moody “Very Far To Crawl”, I love the electric guitar opening (hints of Pops Staples?).  

Maurice Hope 

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April 2018

1
Courtney Marie Andrews
100 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
PK,CVL,DHO,JB,LK
2
Mary Gauthier
59 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
3
Caleb Caudle
49 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
TJ,TK,MP
4
Western Centuries
48 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
DD,GS,FS,HM
5
Vivian Leva
44 pts.
Time is Everything
Free Dirt Records
 
6
Ed Romanoff
42 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
7
Grant Peeples
41 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental
AN
8
Joan Baez
32 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
 
9
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
29 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
MF,HDB
 
Sam Morrow
29 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
JV
11
Chris Smither
27 pts.
Call Me Lucky
Signature Sounds
JSM,JD
12
Michael McDermott
26 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
CRS
13
John Prine
24 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
SP
14
Mary Chapin Carpenter
23 pts.
Sometimes Just The Sky
Lambent Light Records
 
15
Dean Owens
22 pts.
Southern Wind
At The Helm
PJ
16
6 String Drag
21 pts.
Top of The World
Schoolkids Records
FCE,JS
 
Haley Heynderickx
21 pts.
I Need To Start A Garden
Mama Bird Recordings
 
 
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
21 pts.
Tearing At The Seams
Stax Records
RM
19
Abe Partridge
20 pts.
Cotton Fields And Blood For Days
Skate Mountain
MVP,RK
 
Adam James Sorensen
20 pts.
Dust Cloud Refrain
Continental Song City
BM
 
Ben Reel
20 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
 
 
Chip Taylor
20 pts.
Fix Your Words
Train Wreck Records
LM
 
Kesia Nagata
20 pts.
Looking For Horses
Caramal Productions
GC,EZ
 
Sheesham & Lotus & 'Son
20 pts.
Clear The Table
SepiaPhone Records
SZ,PG
25
3hattrio
18 pts.
Lord of the Desert
Okehdokee Records
 
 
Marlon Williams
18 pts.
Make Way for Love
Dead Oceans

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