Willie Nelson - Hill Country Christmas
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Hill Country Christmas (Finer Arts, 1997)

Willie Nelson

Reviewed by Brian Wahlert

No matter what record label Willie Nelson's on, who he's recording with (his sister Bobbie plays piano here), or what he's recording (11 Christmas songs), he never ceases to amaze with his weathered, nasal voice and impeccable classical guitar playing.

Nowhere does he sound better vocally than on "Joy to the World," where he's backed only by Bobbie's piano, and the obligatory rendition of Willie's classic "Pretty Paper" also comes off very well.

The only new song "El Nino" is included in both its original version and as an instrumental, and although it's not very interesting lyrically, its Spanish flavor offers Willie the chance to stretch out on guitar. In fact, the only song that fails is a horribly misguided duet with Gene Autry on "Here Comes Santa Claus." It's just an Autry recording with Willie's vocals dubbed in, and the voices don't mix very well. Even country legends are allowed one bad song on an otherwise good album.

CDs by Willie Nelson

Bluegrass, 2023 Don't Know A Thing About Love, 2023 A Beautiful Time, 2022 That's Life, 2021 First Rose of Spring, 2020 Ride Me Back Home, 2019 My Way, 2018 Last Man Standing, 2018 Willie's Stash Volume 2, 2017 God's Problem Child, 2017 Summertime Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin, 2016 Band of Brothers, 2014 To All the Girls..., 2013 Let's Face the Music and Dance, 2013 Freedom, 2012 Remember Me Vol. 1, 2011 Country Music, 2010 American Classic, 2009 Lost Highway, 2009 Naked Willie, 2009 One Hell of a Ride, 2008 Moment of Forever, 2008 Songbird, 2006 Live From Austin, TX, 2006 Songs of Cindy Walker, 2006 You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker, 2006

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