Willie Nelson | Heroes (Legacy)

willienelson heroesThere are hits and there are misses on this album.

 

Few can deliver a song better than Willie Nelson. Even when working with material that’s not exactly top-drawer, he usually manages to make it worth your time to listen. That’s a good thing, because with over 200 albums recorded in a career spanning more than 50 years, his catalog includes a fair number of average to below-average songs as well as a lot of hits. Nelson’s latest album, Heroes, is not an exception to this pattern. Most of the songs on it are ordinary at best, but Willie and his eclectic crew of collaborators (including his sons Lucas and Micah, as well as Kris Kristofferson, Sheryl Crow, Ray Price, and, I kid you not, Snoop Dogg) make them mostly agreeable to listen to, if not particularly memorable.

Despite several up-tempo numbers, including the stoner anthem “Roll Me Up (and Smoke Me When I Die)” and the determinedly cheerful “My Window Faces the South,” the predominant mood of this album is somber, as if Nelson were contemplating his own mortality. That’s not entirely out of place for a 79-year-old who has had several serious health scares as well as recent brushes with the law. Songs in this vein include “Hero” (a new song written by Nelson), “A Horse Called Music” (a 1983 song written by Wayne Carson), and Coldplay’s “The Scientist.” “Every Time He Drinks He Thinks of Her,” written by Lukas Nelson, sounds like a vintage Willie Nelson song; unfortunately, Lucas’s singing is not nearly up to his father’s standard (but then again, whose is?).

So there are hits and there are misses on this album, but it has enough of the classic Nelson style to make it a worthwhile purchase for his fans. B | Sarah Boslaugh

RIYL: Working in Tennessee; San Antonio Rose

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