Willie-Nelson-M-Review-No27Willie Nelson

Let’s Face the Music and Dance

[Sony Legacy]

For Willie Nelson, there’s no better (legal) way to celebrate a birthday than to release a record. The latest addition to the octogenarian’s 200-plus-album discography marks a return to the Great American Songbook, which served him so well on 1978’s Stardust. Nelson’s instantly recognizable, languorous vocals suit the material, giving a rough-hewn charm to standards like “Walking My Baby Back Home,” “Twilight Time” and “Marie (The Dawn is Breaking).” An underrated guitarist, Nelson showcases his chops on a pair of instrumentals: “Vous et Moi” and Django Reinhardt’s “Nuages.” On “Is the Better Part Over,” the disc’s lone original, Nelson reworks a tune he first recorded in 1989, trading heavy orchestration for a sparser arrangement. Elsewhere, he pays tribute to Western Swing with Spade Cooley’s “Shame on You” and flirts with rockabilly on Carl Perkins’ “Matchbox,” which features his older sister Bobbie Nelson’s boogying piano. By no means groundbreaking, the album has a timeless quality, and each listen feels like a reunion with an old friend. –Juli Thanki


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