- 16 May 18
Another Twelve Inches of Willie.
Around twelve short months ago, I reviewed the last Willie Nelson album, God’s Problem Child, and took my hat off to the work and strike rate of a man about to turn eighty-four. If anything, I underestimated the great man’s industriousness, for here he is back again, on the eve of his eighty-fifth birthday, with another fine lump of wax. It’s very much of a piece with the last one, Nelson mocking his age and laughing in the face of the big finish. If this is the result of the ingestion of copious amounts of the lethal weed, then perhaps we should start prescribing it to the lethargic en masse.
The music ranges from shuffles that’ll warm the heart of any fans of the late JJ Cale, like the title-track and ‘Don’t Tell Noah’; the western swing of his beloved Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys – Nelson recorded a whole album of this stuff with Asleep At The Wheel called, obviously enough, Willie And The Wheel – on the defiant ‘Ready To Roar’; and the gorgeous, soul-tinged country ballad of ‘Something You Get Through’, carried along by the harmonica of Mickey Raphael, Nashville’s own Charlie Parker.
The songwriting – all, like the last one, by Willie and producer Buddy Cannon – is at a level that any of the current crop of big hats would kill to reach; from a good gag about halitosis (‘Bad Breath’) to his sly, grinning assertion that he really tried when reminded that “The good book says love everybody”. When he finally hangs up his battered guitar Trigger, and heads off to join his pals in that honky tonk in the sky, we’re going to miss Willie Nelson.