Willie Nelson’s latest album amply demonstrates his timeless talent; his longevity and musical diversity are unsurpassed in all of popular music.
Other than the rather questionable cover art, this recent release from Willie Nelson reaches a level of authenticity seldom heard in today’s country music. Bluegrass is Willie’s 74th studio album (along with more than 20 live recordings), and it’s a stripped-down collection of tunes he has chosen to re-record in a bluesgrass-flavored setting.
With the exception of “Good-Hearted Woman”, which he co-wrote with Waylon Jennings, the album consists of material entirely written by Willie. The songs were recorded over a period of many years, with a variety of approaches, so this outing, with its consistent approach directed by Willie’s long-time producer Buddy Cannon, creates a result greater and more satisfying than the original settings. Briefly, the album is a cohesive triumph from beginning to end.
Particularly satisfying are the tracks “You Left Me A Long, Long Time Ago”, “Sad Songs and Waltzes”, and the evocative, high-eenergy “Still is Still Moving to Me”. That said, there’s not a disappointing cut on the album, except perhaps for the non-appearance of Willie’s legendary guitar Trigger. That absence is more than compensated by the superb studio band that Buddy Cannon assembled. The familiar bluegrass components of banjo, acoustic guitar, dobro, fiddle, mandolin, harmonica and standup bass provide the tasty ingredients that make for total sonic satisfaction. The album was recorded in a mere two days in Nashville.
Need I mention that Willie celebrated his 90th birthday this year? His voice is strong, and his musicality and feeling for a lyric remain undiminished.
This album, along with the 1962 classic And Then I Wrote, 1975’s Red-Headed Stranger, 1978’s Stardust and the 2004 live outing with Wynton Marsalis, Two Men With The Blues, demonstrates why Willie Nelson should be considered a national treasure. His longevity and musical diversity are unsurpassed in all of popular music.