Willie Nelson, ‘Let’s Face the Music and Dance’ – Album Review
‘Let’s Face the Music and Dance’ is a great place for a young country music fan to meet Willie Nelson. It won’t be his most famous, and it won’t create any hit singles. This wonderfully consistent effort proves what longtime fans of the legend already know: At 79 years old (80 on April 30), Nelson is still as important and skilled a vocalist as there is in country music.
This is an album for fans who admire country music as an art form. Nelson covers pop, jazz and rock songs from the past century — most will be new to the younger generation — and, along with the family band, puts a distinctive stamp on each. “Smooth” is the one word that defines this collection of 14 songs. From the first (‘Lets Face the Music and Dance’) to the last (‘Shame on You’) song, Nelson’s voice and easy guitar melt together like butter on fresh-cooked biscuits.
His trusty guitar is featured early and often. The introduction to the title track sets a tone that one can really lean on to decide if they’ll enjoy the entire project. At times, Nelson crosses the Rio Grande and borrows from old Mexico. ‘South of the Border’ is an obvious example of this Tex-Mex fusion, but it’s palpable in many other places throughout.
There’s a French influence as well, most clearly on the Django Reinhardt song ‘Nuages,’ but also on ‘Vous Et Moi.’ Both these songs are instrumentals that hold up well to those that feature Nelson as a singer. The Family Band helps create an inspired looseness around these compositions. Close your eyes and it feels like you’re in a private club watching them share their craft. “Sister Bobbie,” Nelson will say, and off she goes on a solo as delightful as anything the more famous Nelson does or says.
Much like ‘Heroes,’ this album proves that Nelson — who will be headlining the Taste of Country Music Festival June 13-15 — is as strong a singer as ever. He uses he voice differently than he did during the ’70s and ’80s, but the result is still inspiring. File this album as one to enjoy when the night is quiet and you and your lover have time to reflect on a busy week gone by.