Willie Nelson

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Willie Nelson's whole life has been music, a steady stream of songs, covers, concerts, shows, albums, collaborations, you name it. The one constant has been his gently elegant and comfortable vocal style and his unassuming, spontaneously jazzy guitar fills. Yeah, he’s country, although he’s ventured pretty far afield from that, flirting with jazz, pure pop, and even reggae at different times in his long career. He’s not a country artist so much as he is Willie Nelson, a brand as much as an icon, and the main problem with compilations of his work (and there are hundreds of them) is that he’s recorded so much and for so long, that all a single-disc collection can do is slice one layer into the onion. This set spotlights tracks he released while on the Lost Highway label, and by not trying to tell the whole story, and by working this one little corner, it holds up pretty well as a playlist. Highlights include duets with Lee Ann Womack (“Mendocino Country Line”), B.B. King (“Night Life”), Francine Reed (“Funny How Time Slips Away”), and live versions of “Crazy” (with Diana Krall and Elvis Costello) and Nelson's signature “On the Road Again.”

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