Some of Nelson’s most affecting performances over his lengthy career have been courtesy of songs written by Kris Kristofferson (Help Me Make It Through The Night, For The Good Times), and to find the two old warhorses reunited on the title track is truly joyous. It’s a stunning few minutes, poignant and poetic, a delicate accordion-led ballad that goes straight to the heart and the tear ducts.
Unfortunately, the rest of the album struggles to escape from that one mighty tune’s shadow. Part of the problem might be Kenny Chesney’s all-too-clinical production, but simplistic cookie-cutter ditties such as I’m Alive and Worry B Gone hardly warrant any special treatment in the first place.
Randy Newman’s Louisiana is given a lyrical update in the light of Hurricane Katrina (Bush replacing the President Coolidge of the original), although Willie seems disconnected from the song, as if he’s reading the new words off a teleprompter for the first time. The voice is still there, though, and it’s a safe bet he’s still got a couple more classy albums in his system. This isn’t one of them, sadly.