On The Record: Willie Nelson & Sister Bobbie
OUT THIS WEEK
Willie Nelson & Sister Bobbie, “December Day (Willie’s Stash, Vol. 1)” (Legacy). “Band of Brothers,” Willie’s first collection of primarily new material in nearly two decades, stands as his most significant release of 2014, but this late-year offering also ranks with the best Nelson music in recent memory, in no small part because both Willie and Bobbie are front and center. It’s not a duet album in the classic sense — the vocals are all Willie’s — but Bobbie’s piano is the lead instrument, with trademark Willie acoustic guitar flourishes darting in and out of the melodies. Occasional background accents from a handful of Family Band sidemen, including the late Bee Spears in his final session, add subtle color, but it’s the song selection that shines brightest here. Three Irving Berlin tunes — “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” What’ll I Do” and “Always” — help give the set a timeless quality, abetted by longtime Willie classics such as “Permanently Lonely,” “Sad Songs and Waltzes” and the seasonal title track, which is neatly juxtaposed in medley with “Summer of Roses.” Best of all is a relatively new tune, “Laws of Nature” (video below), which appeared a few years ago in a duet version with reggae artist Marty Dread but radiates with a pastoral beauty here as Willie surveys the landscape and concludes, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Sister Bobbie clearly landed nearby as well. Willie Nelson & Family play Dec. 30-31 at ACL Live.
These Mad Dogs of Glory, “Isle au Haut.” The third release from this gritty Austin foursome, following a debut full-length and a five-song EP, tempers heavily bluesy rock ’n’ roll with passages of moody country-folk. Release show Dec. 5 at the Mohawk.
DEC. 10: Christy Hays, “O Montana” EP, release show Dec. 10 at Cactus Cafe.
DEC. 12: The Deer, “On the Essence of the Indomitable Spirit,” release show Dec. 12 at Spiderhouse Ballroom.
DEC. 16: Timberos Del Norte, self-titled, release show Dec. 18 at One-2-One Bar.
JAN. 7: Obscured By Echoes, release show Jan. 7 at Cheer Up Charlie’s.
JAN. 13: Charlie Belle, “Get to Know” EP, release show Jan. 14 at Holy Mountain.
JAN. 27: T-Bird & the Breaks, “Harmonizm,” playing Dec. 5 at Holy Mountain.
FEB. 10: Robert Earl Keen, “Happy Prisoner” (Dualtone), playing Dec. 19 at ACL Live.
FEB. 10: GOBI, “Gold on Black Ice,” release show Feb. 7 at Holy Mountain.
FEB. 24: James McMurtry, “Complicated Game” (Complicated Game Records).
FEB. 24: Quiet Company, “Trangressor” (Modern Outsider). Playing Zilker Trail of Lights Dec. 5.
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