Monday, May 10, 2021

Willie Nelson "That's Life"

(Sony, 2021) Willie Nelson puts out an album or two a year and they are all somehow great. This is his second Sinatra tribute, and his voice, while as reserved and subtle and nuanced as always, incredibly seems more robust than the last Sinatra tribute, even as he is eyeballing nonagenarianism. I keep waiting for the some kind of extra fragility to emanate from his veteran vocal cords, confident that he will work that with beautiful, soulful technique the way Little Jimmy Scott did in his latter years, but it just ain't happening, so I need to stop waiting. The cover (by Paul Mann) resembles the Sinatra-era painty painting illustrations of George Bartell or Jim Jonson, and it's definitely his best cover art in decades.  "Nice Work If You Can Get It" is great, "I've Got You Under My Skin" is fun, and his Diana Krall duet is nice. Red Headed Stranger captures Old Blue Eyes' ease and natural delivery but does not tackle the underlying pathos of Frank at his best. But that's 2021 some swing is not a bad thing.

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