News on Willie Nelson's new album.
Despite being a big fan, I've rather lost track of Willie's stream of releases in the last few years. They seem to have come thick and fast, none of them making much of a dent. I actually think the last one I bought was Teatro way back in 1998. He toured here in (I think) January 2000 and I stood out in the rain for an hour round the back of the Sydney EntCent and got the CD insert autographed. I asked him how Johnny Cash was, he'd had a bout of illness around that time. Subsequently that CD, along with all my others, was stolen on 22nd November 2000. It was a Wednesday. Not that I still obsess about that or anything. Anyway, I haven't read all of this article because it requires registration and I can't be bothered but the opening paragraphs featured at Real Country Music are promising:
It Always Will Be marks the return of an introspective Willie Nelson, the artist who crafted quietly moving gems such as 1996's Spirit and 1998's Teatro. The new album plays like a soulful respite from the neon lights and whiskey-charged ambience of a honky-tonk.
It's also an about face from most of 2002's The Great Divide, the polished, much-maligned disc that paired him with young, big-selling duet partners such as Kid Rock, Lee Ann Womack, Brian McKnight and Sheryl Crow.
Simple Willie is best Willie, just him and that stuttery guitar. Mickey Raphael on harp. Maybe a bit of organ and some feathery drums. Of course he can honky tonk it up too but he needs a band that comes under his voice, rather than one that squashes over it.
One of my favourite albums (another casualty of the Great Massacre of '00) is the VH1 Storytellers with Johnny Cash. Just them two and their guitars and a small, adoring audience. Johnny's voice is like its anchored thirty feet down into the bedrock under the Atlantic and Willie's zips about over and under it. The perfect compound of all things musical.