Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., April 7, 2006
You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker (Lost Highway)
With the recent death of Cindy Walker, Willie Nelson's tribute to the great Texas songwriter gains extra significance. Even without Walker's passing, this is one of Nelson's finest LPs, honoring an American composer as important as Irving Berlin or Cole Porter. Best known for his work with Roy Orbison, veteran Nashville producer Fred Foster gives another local legend, fiddler Johnny Gimble, wide berth to lead the band, and with the material on You Don't Know Me fitting Nelson ever so warm and snug, the country crooner turns in one of his most relaxed, inspired performances. Gimble, once one of Bob Wills' Texas Playboys, keeps tunes Wills recorded, like "Bubbles in My Beer," "Cherokee Maiden," and "It's All Your Fault," swinging, while Nelson explores the soul and simple warmth of ballads such as the title track and "Not That I Care." With this combination of musical mastery, plus Buddy Emmons on steel guitar and the Jordanaires adding backing vocals, You Don't Know Me is likely to join Stardust and The Red Headed Stranger as albums among those that Willie Nelson's audience will enjoy for a long, long time.