Willie Nelson and Willie Nelson

Texas platters

Phases & Stages

Willie Nelson

It Always Will Be (Lost Highway)

Willie Nelson & Friends

Outlaws and Angels (Lost Highway)
Phases & Stages

Webster's defines "codger" as "an often mildly eccentric and usually elderly fellow." That's Willie Nelson: mildly eccentric, as in chummy with both Toby Keith and Lucinda Williams; and usually elderly, as in staring down the September of his years on "Be That as It May" and the Keith-penned "Tired," yet frisky as a kitten on stardusted Norah Jones duet "Dreams Come True." Contemplating eternity, mortality, and the carnal delights of biscuits and gravy, It Always Will Be is Willie's best album since 1996's somber Spirit. Consider, for example, that "Big Booty," a spry epitaph to a defunct relationship with a large-rumped woman, is his best single in years, yet only the third-best song on the album. Topping it are "I Didn't Come Here (And I Ain't Leavin')," Nelson at his most irascible, and "Picture in a Frame," a gorgeously spare ballad written by Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan. Much of Always echoes the latter's tone – reflective, sentimental, romantic – whether love is coming or going. Near the end, the autumnal Spanish guitar and lonesome harmonica of "Texas" hint at an imminent saunter into the Spicewood sunset, but not so fast: the clattering drums and salty licks of the Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider" make it clear this outlaw's got miles to go before he sleeps. He went to L.A. this May to record the Outlaws and Angels USA Network special; on the mixed-bag soundtrack, he's occasionally upstaged by his guests and phones in standards like "Pancho & Lefty," but he redeems himself on turns with Shelby Lynne, Williams, and Rickie Lee Jones. Willie Nelson at 71, still every inch the ladies' man. Such an old codger, he.

(It Always Will Be) ****

(Outlaws and Angels) **

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
MORE Willie Nelson
CBD Companies Find Practical Uses for Marijuana Compounds
CBD Companies Find Practical Uses for Marijuana Compounds
Canvas 1839’s scientist and Willie’s Remedy explain cannabis molecules

Jessi Cape, June 7, 2019

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Kinky Friedman
Resurrection (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Jan. 3, 2020

Texas Platters
The Beaumonts / Hickoids
This Is Austin, All the World's a Dressing Room (Record Review)

Kevin Curtin, Jan. 3, 2020

More by Christopher Gray
Margaret Moser Tribute: Alvin Crow
Alvin Crow
Summer camp with the kids

June 30, 2017

Margaret Moser Tribute: The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones
That Margaret Moser, she’s a rainbow

June 30, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, Norah Jones, Toby Keith, Lucinda Williams, Kathleen Brennan

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle