Nelson’s 1978 album of Tin Pan Alley standards, Stardust, gave the country legend the biggest hit of his performing career and helped him cross over to a mainstream pop audience. Wisdom dictates that he was destined to repeat the formula, it’s just a surprise that it took him so long.
Backed by the ubiquitous piano of Diana Krall (soon to be heard on Barbra Streisand’s new album), Mrs Elvis Costello also weighs in on duet duties, as does Norah Jones. But this is undoubtedly Willie’s laconic party, from the almost-spoken drawl of The Nearness Of You, to the playful Ain’t Misbehavin’ and jaunty Western swing canter across The Street Where You Live.
Nelson’s vocal phrasing has always been rich in jazz motifs, informing the style of country stars who’ve followed him (Lyle Lovett, kd lang), so none of this material particularly stretches him or offers much of a challenge. That’s not a criticism however, and it’s a laid back pleasure to hear him slip into such familiar songs like a steady hand into a well-worn favourite glove.