Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson and the Boys: Willie's Stash, Vol. 2

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Like the first volume, the second installment of Willie's Stash -- an ongoing trawl through Willie Nelson's prodigious vaults -- Willie Nelson and the Boys focuses on members of Nelson's family. This time around, his sons Lukas and Micah share the spotlight with their father, all singing and playing on a set of 12 country classics cut during the sessions for the 2012 album Heroes. It's a set of familiar tunes cut with a familiar crew in a familiar setting -- Pedernales Recording Studio in Austin, Texas -- so it's not a shock that Willie and the Boys offers no overt surprises, but that hardly means it sounds stale. Willie continues to play with his phrasing -- his take on the opening "Move It on Over" is especially inventive -- and Lukas and Micah follow suit, molding the melody to fit their own needs. Maybe the sons aren't yet as idiosyncratic as their father, but they're certainly accomplished vocalists and guitarists, their styles weaving nicely with Willie and his seasoned band, probably because they grew up with this crew. That sense of continuity is the charm of Willie Nelson and the Boys. Nelson is singing songs he always has -- he's recorded several of these songs over the years, and that's not just limited to the originals he revisits -- and what's rewarding about this set is to hear him play them from a different perspective. He's not just older, he's acting like a father, making sure to carve space for his sons while still giving plenty of space to his old pals. It's hard not to find this warmth moving and, given the skill behind this music, it's hard not to find Willie Nelson and the Boys entertaining.

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