Willie Nelson, Teatro

Andy Beta

By Andy Beta

on 06.04.11 in Reviews


Willie Nelson
Embracing change while remaining unchanged himself

Willie Nelson’s chart run nearly coincided with his much publicized IRS problems. But after the Feds were paid, of more concern was that much of his ’80s and ’90s studio output didn’t quite equal the caliber of his previous work. Signed to Island near the end of the ’90s, he released the somber and sparse (and highly recommended Spirit) and then convened in an abandoned movie theater in Oxnard, California, with his sister and longtime bandmate Bobbie, harmonica player Mickey Raphael, singer Emmylou Harris and famed U2/ Peter Gabriel producer Daniel Lanois. Lanois, a master of atmosphere, surrounds Willie with plenty of new textures: spaghetti western dust clouds, nourish guitar lines, Latin as well as Afro-Cuban rhythms. The percussion gives many of these Nelson standards an invigorating lilt: there’s a two-step for “Darkness on the Face of the Earth,” a tango for “My Own Peculiar Way,” rolling snares on “I Never Cared for You.” Some 40 decades into his recording career, it showed could still embrace change while remaining unchanged himself.