Thursday, September 03, 2009
Willie Does Standards
Willie Nelson's back, crooning his way through an altogether pleasant set of standards.
Below is my review, as it appears in Las Vegas City Life, and you can also link to it here.
Another year, another Willie Nelson album, or two or three. American Classic, although not quite the history-making effort declared by its title, offers an appealing twist. This time, the aging country outlaw applies his extremely laid-back crooning to another set of the pop standards he's graced every so often since first taking a similar approach on 1978's near-classic Stardust.
The CD, something of a follow-up to Nelson's bluesy collaboration last year with Wynton Marsalis, again matches the singer's warmly familiar vocals with blue-chip jazzers, including pianist Joe Sample, guitarist Anthony Wilson, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Lewis Nash, with B3 organ and strings added on some tracks. He offers a decidedly lethargic reading of an otherwise jaunty "Fly Me to the Moon" and then turns around and nails the poignancy of a lover's sworn devotion on "Come Rain or Come Shine." And he's playful in the right measure on "Ain't Misbehavin'."
Still, the collection's most memorable tracks features Nelson's pairings with female singers. Nelson's all smooth and suave to Diana Krall's sultry delivery on "If I Had You," and he practically leers his way through a sexy, funny take on winter-weather chestnut "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Only a spoilsport would resist.