Willie Nelson and Family – [Album]

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

While there's no denying that Heroes (Willie Nelson's first album back on Sony Music) and Let's Face The Music and Dance are very entertaining records, one has to wonder how long it will be before Willie Nelson – arguably one of the greatest, most celebrated and prolific songwriters in American music history – picks up a pen and starts writing again. The first criticism which could be made of Let's Face The Music and Dance, in fact, is that there are even fewer original songs on it than there were on its predecessor (the ratio of original songs on Let's Face The Music… to new songs on Heroes is one to three) and, while the performances of the songs on Let's Face The Music… are more satisfying than those found on Nelson's last seven albums combined (the singer started slumping when he released Countryman in 2005), the hope for new songs has once again been left unaddressed on Let's Face The Music and Dance, and it's hard to not feel a little shorted by that.

Listeners may indeed feel a little cheated by the fact that there aren't a lot of newer original songs in Let's Face The Music's run-time at first, but that feeling will fade quickly as Nelson and his new band (featuring Billy English on guitar, Paul English on drums, Bobbie Nelson on piano, Kevin Smith on bass, Moose Brown on organ and percussionist Micak Nelson) warm up with the album's title track. Here, Willie Nelson locks into a sound which may be totally foreign to long-time fans – a bit calypso-infused vibe with light Mexican jazz and country soul flavoring – but it will certainly not be unwelcome as the winsome sound snakes its way between listeners' heartstrings. Here, while it is not his own, Willie Nelson treats the song with loving care as he gives the melody just enough winsome sweetness and desire to make listeners' knees weak.

Because he knows he's onto something, Willie Nelson keeps the same sentimental sound running through “You'll Never Know,” “Marie” and “I'll Keep on Loving You,” and never really runs out of steam. In each case, the “for sentimental reasons”-style vibes hold up and will have listeners continually sighing and then re-sighing breaths of contentment. While it's not perfect (after fifty-one years, Willie Nelson should know better than to attempt anything with a French title (as he does here with “Vous Et Moi” and “Nuages”) whether it's an instrumental or not; he is a heartland singer and should stick to that strength.

Even though it isn't perfect, there's no denying that Let's Face The Music and Dance is a perfectly enjoyable record which older fans will be able to appreciate and even grow very, very fond of. That certainly qualifies the album as a success but, now that he's gotten himself situated and comfortable, fans will be justified in hoping for new original music; this album is strong enough to buy him some time with fans, now all he need do is write some.



Let's Face The Music and Dance
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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