The dawn of the new millennium brought a creative revival for country giant Merle Haggard. Haggard's prolonged absence from the country charts, which began in the early 1990s--coupled with his unsuccessful attempts to reclaim the airwaves--must have finally convinced the legend that commercial radio no longer had a place for him. Rather than fold shop, Haggard apparently took this as a green light to do whatever he damn well pleased. Four fine discs resulted between 2000 and 2001, two secular (IF I COULD ONLY FLY and VOLUME 1: ROOTS) and two gospel (CABIN IN THE HILL and TWO OLD FRIENDS).
TWO OLD FRIENDS features Haggard in duets with Albert E. Brumley Jr., son of the legendary gospel songwriter Albert Brumley ("I'll Fly Away," "Turn Your Radio On") and a famous gospel performer in his own right. Backed by Haggard's crack touring band, the pair work their way through compositions by Brumley Sr., Brumley Jr., and the Hag himself with the immediacy and warmth of a back-porch jam session. Like all of Haggard's recordings of this period, TWO OLD FRIENDS brings a refreshingly organic tonic to our synthetic, prefab era.