Lots of new records out now … and so little time to listen. Even less time to review, so here are some capsule critiques of albums by a few of our favorite savvy veterans.
Merle Haggard has been making music for more than 50 years and the simple declarative title of I Am What I Am means that listeners will get what Merle does best. And that’s deliver a bunch of hand-crafted tunes that reflect on a long life, lost love, a lost life, or long love. In fine voice at age 73, Haggard doesn’t need the gimmick of big-name guest stars (his only duet is on “Live and Love Always,” with his wife Theresa) or cover versions.
MP3: “Live And Love Always” by Merle Haggard
One of the oldest singers goin’ today is also one of the busiest – Willie Nelson has Country Music, which should be the first of three or four albums he releases this year, if the past few years are any indication. Willie enlists Oscar-winning musician T-Bone Burnett as a producer and T-Bone’s house musicians surround Nelson’s idiosyncratic vocals with a swirl of music that’s mysterious when it needs to be, and playful when it wants to be. It may seem like a no-brainer to turn Willie loose on a handful of country standards, and even if this album seems a little flimsy it’s also a fine experience.
MP3: “Gotta Walk Alone” by Willie Nelson