Black Music Matters Festival

Willie Nelson

Freedom – 2012 (Sony Legacy)

Reviewed by Bob Gottlieb

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Willie Nelson's new disc is an interesting mixture of songs and contains some most unlikely collaborations. Did you ever envision Kris Kristofferson and Snoop Dogg doing a duet or Willie doing a song by either Coldplay or Pearl Jam? Give Nelson credit for being able to recognize a good song or an unlikely partner and have it work out. The unlikely pair of Kristofferson and Dogg team up on Willie's so poetic Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die . Listen to the brilliant interpretation of Pearl Jam's Just Breathe, it takes the song to a different realm and takes on a new significance.

The disc contains only three new Nelson compositions, which is not necessarily a negative. His interpretations of others' songs is stellar and he shows this with Fred Rose's classic Home In San Antone , and also his take on Coldplay's The Scientist, is a wonderful reminder of how great this man's vision can be.

Lukas Nelson, one of Willie's sons is all over this disc - he wrote three songs, sang and played guitar. Lukas has that same kind of reedy vibrato as his father, but in a slightly higher pitch, instantly recognizable. Micah Nelson, another of Willie's offspring contributes also. And before you cry nepotism remember he had his sister, Bobbi, playing keyboards on and off for years in his band in the 80's. Make no mistake though this is Willie's disc, and a very good one. One of the reasons that Nelson has had this longevity, aside from his songwriting and his singing is his ability to take chances that others would call ridiculous and transpose them into projects that are successful and generally leave many scratching their heads.