Although Nelson's move into straight country music didn't result in notable commercial gains, it made sense given that his prior few rock albums hadn't done much, and that most rockabilly performers had long since gone into the country market. Nelson had recorded some country material throughout his career, and this album didn't really require a radical rethink. He still used his regular band, but augmented them with Glen Campbell, future Byrd Clarence White, and regular guitarist James Burton, who played dobro. It wasn't country-rock, but straight country without any Nashville gloss in the production, emphasizing covers of songs by Willie Nelson, Merle Travis, Bill Anderson, and Doug Kershaw. Nelson sounded more engaged with the material than he had in years, and the album was a decent effort, but as it relied so heavily on songs that had already been made famous by others, it wasn't going to make him stand out as an innovator. Nelson acquitted himself well with his one original, "You Just Can't Quit," and Campbell contributed "Here I Am," yet the best cut was the fastest, "Night Train to Memphis."
Bright Lights & Country Music
(Digital Download - Geffen / Universal #)
Review by Richie Unterberger