Willie Nelson, Countryman

Andy Beta

By Andy Beta

on 06.04.11 in Reviews


Willie Nelson
A not-great attempted at reggae, but Countryman has his moments

“To live outside the law you must be honest,” the Dylan lyric goes, and Willie Nelson, outlaw that he is, has always been honest with his loves, musical or medicinal. Musically, he loved standards and gospel, so that he did the unthinkable at the height of “Outlaw”-mania in cutting albums of that genre rather than boot-scuffing honky-tonk. And in case you’ve been in a cave since Willie burned one on the White House roof during the Carter Administration, Willie likes the weed. So much that he finally tackled the lone musical form he had never previously imbibed, reggae. It’s not great by a long shot, but Countryman does have its moments. There’s the mix of pedal steel and chicken-scratch guitar on “How Long is Forever,” the dubbed-out spaces of “Sittin’ Here in Limbo” and a fine read of “The Harder They Come.” In a career of detours, this is one of the most unexpected.