Black Music Matters Festival

Willie Nelson

Country Music – 2010 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

See it on Amazon

Calling Willie Nelson's latest recording "Country Music" may seem a little redundant to some. After all, isn't Willie the very embodiment of country music? And having T-Bone Burnett produce the project only seals the deal. Indeed, this is an album filled to the brim with mostly traditional country music, which gives off a distinctly spiritual vibe. Songs like Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down and Satisfied Mind leave one with the impression of Nelson taking spiritual stock.

It's also a fairly gentle selection of music. The pot-smoking, whiskey river-ing Willie, so familiar to many, is not to be found here. Freight Train Boogie is about the only time this vehicle picks up any real speed. Honestly, however, it's a little disappointing that the work contains only one Nelson original composition (Man with the Blues). Sure, Willie's long hair and beat up old guitar are each visual symbols of the man's image, but he made his name as a writer first, and it just seems like a shame to give his pen this sabbatical. With that said, however, there's still not a bad track in the bunch.

Like Merle Haggard, Nelson is a master of phrasing, which makes almost every song he sings sound like it's his own. Burnett also did a wonderful job keeping these sessions simple and pure, as he always does. These recordings all feature restrained acoustic instrumentation, with plenty of fiddle and mandolin, in order to showcase the best instrument of all - that time-tested Willie Nelson voice.