Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Jan. 18, 2002
Willie NelsonThe Great Divide (Lost Highway) At this stage in his career, Willie Nelson can do anything he wants without worrying what anyone might think, and The Great Divide is obvious proof. A mishmash of exasperating songs and worthless duets, the Texas outlaw's latest collection is one overproduced mess after another. The world probably would have gotten along fine without hearing Nelson sing with Kid Rock or Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas, but you'll find those here, and the results are predictably forgettable. Particularly annoying is "Be There For You," which almost features Sheryl Crow, that is if you can find her squeaky voice among the overpowering musical background. The failure of The Great Divide must be blamed on Matt Serletic, best known as the producer for Matchbox Twenty. His heavy-handedness ruins one song after another, and if that's not enough, he's got Nelson performing three tunes written by Thomas, who couldn't hold Nelson's pen when it comes to songwriting. Meanwhile, one has to wonder whose idea it was to cover a song best associated with Cyndi Lauper, "Time After Time." Bonnie Raitt, Lee Ann Womack, Alison Krauss, and Brian McKnight also make appearances, but nothing can save The Great Divide from feeling like a concept dreamed up to get "the kids" to pay attention to Willie. The Great Divide is ample proof that Nelson should just do what he does best, make great country music, and leave the contemporary pop to the Rob Thomases of the world.