Willie Nelson has a winner. How could it not be? It features some of the greatest songs in music history and some of the finest bluegrass players in the business. Most of all, it centers around Willie Nelson, one of the most iconic artists in the history of music, who at 90, has given bluegrass treatment to some of his favorite musical creations.
Songs on "Bluegrass" include some of his most recognized, including "Good Hearted Woman" (co-written with Waylon Jennings), "On The Road Again," "Bloody Mary Morning" and "Yesterday's Wine." These are all fun to listen to and work well with bluegrass instrumentation, but the real joy is to hear some of the lesser-known Nelson compositions, many from much earlier in his career. These serve as a reminder of what a great songwriter he has always been. For example, "Home Motel," "'No Love Around" and "Sad, Songs and Waltzes" feel like they could've been written as bluegrass tunes.
One might have thought this album was going to be a throw-away. Nothing could be further from the truth. It's fantastic. Willie's voice and experienced pacing are perfectly suited to bluegrass instrumentation. A-list pickers include Rob Ickes (Dobro), Ron Block (banjo), Barry Bales (bass), Aubrey Haynie (fiddle), Dan Tyminski (mandolin) and long-time Nelson bandmate, Mickey Raphael (harmonica). Noticeably absent here is Willie's own signature guitar licks with Trigger, as he chose to perform as a vocalist only.
Though the instrumentation and Willie's vocals were recorded in different locations at different times, there was no mailing it in here. A first-class record that leaves us clamoring for more.