Merle Haggard

If We Make It Through December

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Usually, Merle Haggard's musical eclecticism is a virtue, but on If We Make It Through December, it hurts the overall impact of the album. Many of the individual tracks--particularly the gentle, yearning title track and good versions of Lefty Frizzell's "I'm An Old, Old Man (Tryin' To Live While I Can)" and the country standard "To Each His Own"--work well on their own, but often the straight-up country, western swing, Dixieland experiements and pop-tinged ballads seem at odds with each other. As a result, the LP never quite gels, yet there are enough fine moments to make it a worthwhile purchase.

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