Willie Nelson

"Last Man Standing"

(Sony); (Country)

By ​Phil ​Bennett

What can you say about Willie Nelson?

This is his 67th solo album. 67th!!

Then, of course, there are the 34 collaboration albums to add to the total which makes, um, 101 albums!

And now, at the tender age of 84, Willie’s popped down to the studio and churned out yet another effortless elpee of wonderful songs full of originality, sharpness, wit and pathos.

As with many of his recordings, there are traces of blues, jazz, country, folk, New Orleans, you name it, in there, but it always comes out sounding like Willie Nelson.

Though a large proportion of these songs address his mortality, whose shadow looms larger with each year, they are often delivered with a smile and a wink as he tosses out one liners like “I don’t wanna be the last man standing/ On second thought, maybe I do” or “Heaven is closed and Hell’s overcrowded/So I think I’ll just stay where I am”.

What makes him such an embraceable artist, though, is the balance he gives between the lighthearted and the heavy, the sunshine and the dark, the sweet with the sad.

Songs like Me And You and Something You Get Through present the other side as he ruminates on loneliness, loss and the inevitable end to the journey.

As always, the playing is sheer class and his voice is one that goes beyond his years, as much of a country institution as Johnny Cash or George Jones.

What a fabulous thing this is.

Masterful.

​Phil ​Bennett

Musician, actor, singer, music reviewer, Phil’s interests cover a lot of bases and this is reflected in the music he writes about. From blues to soul, ambient to electronic, Phil writes about artists he feels are interesting, true to their craft and worthy of your ears.