Now 81 years old, Willie Nelson shows no signs of slowing down. He began his career in the mid-1950’s and released his first album way back in 1962. Now well over 100 albums into his career, he has issued his fourth new studio album in three years under the title Band Of Brothers.
The best part of his new release is 9 of the 14 songs are original compositions making it the first release of mostly original material since 1996’s Spirit.
While Band Of Brothers is very much a modern recording, there is a wisp of nostalgia involved. Nelson is now an octogenarian, which means most of his life has been lived and sung. Songs such as the originals “Band Of Brothers” and “I’ve Got A Lot Of Traveling To Do,” plus his cover of the Gordie Sampson/Bill Anderson tune “The Songwriters” wistfully reflect his journey while projecting an optimism toward the future.
He does not explore any new ground but covers the old well. His music is subtle and lulls the listener into an appreciation. His voice has always been distinctive and immediately recognizable and has acquired a wonderful patina as the years have passed. His songs such as “Wives And Girlfriends,” “Guitar In A Corner,” “Send Me A Picture,” and “Used To Her” paint pictures set to music, which is something Willie Nelson has always been able to do.
The cover songs have a little more pep and provide a counterpoint next to his original compositions. Billy Joe Shaver approaches country music from a different perspective than Nelson and his “The Git Go,” featuring a duet with Jamey Johnson and “Hard To Be An Outlaw” provides a welcome relief. “Crazy Like Me,” co-written by Billy Burnette is more in line with his usual brand of song.
Willie Nelson is an American country icon and it is inspirational for him to be releasing so much quality material this late in his career. Band Of Brothers is an album that adds some additional glow to his legacy.