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Kris Kristofferson

Kristofferson – 2001 (Columbia/Legacy)

Reviewed by Dan Williams

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CDs by Kris Kristofferson

Kris Kristofferson is a truly problematic individual. One one hand, he's a gifted, world-class songwriter with an immensely satisfying body of work. Johnny Cash and Janis Joplin, Al Green and Ray Price have brung it on home behind one of his signature ballads.

His voice is another matter. He's the owner of a flat, nasal drawl - sort of like Richard Buckner on Quaaludes - that rarely does his material justice. (Sony seemed to acknowledge this a decade ago when they issued a double-CD retrospective. The first disc was solo Kristofferson, and the second, more listenable one featured other artists covering many of the same songs).

This 1970 album - originally released on the tiny Monument label, and upgraded to a major in the wake of "Me and Bobby McGee" - displays this dichotomy in spades. His best-known songs - "McGee," "Help Me Make It Through The Night," "For The Good Times," "Sunday Morning Coming Down" are all here. And they're not bad, but they're not going to make you forget the more indelible hit versions. Alongside such instantly-dated generation-gap hokum as "Blame It On The Stones" and "The Law Is For Protection Of The People," he does proffer a couple of solid keepers. There's the homespun narrative of "Casey's Last Ride," and "To Beat The Devil," a laconic talking blues.

"No one interprets Kristofferson like Kristofferson," the promo says. Nonsense, they often do him one better. To say that no one else writes songs quite like him would be entirely more accurate.