Willie Nelson

Songs for Tsunami Relief: Austin to South Asia

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It's for a good cause and all, but it's hard not to look at Willie Nelson's 2005 Songs for Tsunami Relief and see either the umpteenth live Willie and friends LP, or at the very least, what seems to be the tenth album Nelson has released in a calendar year. Actually, it's merely the fifth album since May 2004 to be billed to Nelson, and this isn't as much a proper Willie Nelson album as it is a various-artists record sold on his name, since he's the biggest star here. He headlined the benefit concert assembled by Texas Monthly writer Michael Hall, whose idea was to showcase Austin's finest musicians from Willie and fellow country outlaws like Joe Ely and Alejandro Escovedo, all the way down to celebrated indie rockers Spoon. Hall mentions in his liner notes that these kind of benefit shows are a bit of a tradition in Austin, and the performances have a nice, comfortable familiarity, giving the music a warm, appealing vibe. It also means that apart from Spoon's rather incongruous appearance between Escovedo and Kelly Willis, there's nothing all that surprising here, either in sound or song selection, but that's par for the course with benefit albums: the intent is to lure listeners, not to alienate them. And for anybody that's a fan of Austin's ever-fertile roots music scene, there's something to enjoy here -- maybe not enough to listen to the record often, but how many benefit albums are designed for frequent play anyway? In all likelihood, Songs for Tsunami Relief is not an album that will be played much by whomever purchases it -- the music is good, but not remarkable -- yet the record is entertaining on that first listen and, besides, it's for a good cause and all.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
2:36 Amazon
2 4:58 Amazon
feat: Joe Ely
5:40 Amazon
feat: Joe Ely
6:29 Amazon
5 6:44 Amazon
6 4:35 Amazon
feat: Spoon
4:55 Amazon
feat: Spoon
3:52 Amazon
feat: Kelly Willis
4:14 Amazon
10 5:16 Amazon
5:17 Amazon
12 3:18 Amazon
13 3:01 Amazon
14 3:29 Amazon
15 3:09 Amazon
16 4:39 Amazon
17 2:42 Amazon
18 4:44 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick