Kris Kristofferson

This Old Road

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This Old Road is the first recording of all new songs by Kris Kristofferson in the 11 years since Moment of Forever was released by Justice. (Interestingly enough, that album was originally recorded a few years earlier by producer Don Was for his Karambolage label, which lost its distribution deal.) Was is on-board here as a producer and as a musician, as are drummer Jim Keltner and old friend Stephen Bruton on guitar. Most of these 11 songs, however, are simply Kristofferson accompanying himself on guitar. The years -- Kristofferson turns 70 in 2006 -- haven't softened the old poet's social conscience -- "Pilgrim's Progress," "Wild American," "In the News," and "The Burden of Freedom" are every bit as radical as those found on his last two Mercury records, Repossessed and Third World Warrior in the mid-'80s. But Kristofferson is also wise enough to believe in love and forgiveness -- "Thank You for a Life," "The Last Thing to Go," "Holy Creation," "Final Attraction" -- and still remembers how to write a killer outlaw country song (check out "Chase the Feeling"). The tunes with the band are solid, but there is something utterly irresistible about the man with only his guitar. His voice is no better and no worse than it was in all those years form the 1970s on. But his phrasing as a singer has improved considerably. Kristofferson is dead-on here, razor-sharp, economical in his language, and to the bone in his insight. This is a welcome comeback for Kristofferson; as an artist, he proves he still has plenty to offer to anyone willing enough to listen.

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