Picks and Pans Review: Angel Eyes

updated 07/02/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/02/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Willie Nelson

It's to his credit that Willie seems so intent on testing his limits, but on this album he has found them. It is a collaboration with jazz guitarist Jackie King, who has played with groups led by Chet Baker and Sonny Stitt. Though King started out as a country guitarist, his current style is abstract and fast-much too abstract and fast to be at all consonant with Nelson. On the slower tracks, such as Angel Eyes or I Fall in Love Too Easily, Willie remains the consummate pop singer, turning phrases and sounds like the master he is. But he is absolutely lost on the up-tempo tracks: On Thank You and The Gypsy, for instance, he goes painfully flat and out of tempo. When he tries to scat, he sounds dreadful. King, meanwhile, is zipping along coolly, and keyboardist Don Hass is backing up the singer who ought to be there. This is clearly a mistake for Willie—imagine Carmen McRae singing Stand by Your Man—but it seems an honest one. Nothing ventured, etc. (Columbia)

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