WILLIE NELSON You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker
REVIEWED BY HOLLY GLEASON
At this point in their careers, Willie Nelson, 72, and Van Morrison, 60, have just about done it all, from reggae to skiffle. For their latest releases, these two timeless vocalists—the Texas Buddha and the Belfast Cowboy—turn to the classicism of country covers.
For Nelson, it means saluting Cindy Walker, a fellow East Texan whose elegant, old-style songs defined Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, Gene Autry and Eddy Arnold. Bathing in pools of Buddy Emmons's tear-drop steel guitar and Johnny Gimble's fiddle lines, Nelson turns the neon down low, draws the emotional nuance close and crafts a heartfelt tribute to western swing's version of Hoagy Carmichael with his tender take on "You Don't Know Me," brave yet vulnerable "Not That I Care" and good-timey "Cherokee Maiden."
On Pay the Devil, Morrison draws on songs associated with Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, Patsy Cline, George Jones and Conway Twitty. With some bawdy blues (Big Joe Turner's "Don't You Make Me High") and a few originals that fit right in, Morrison hasn't sounded this engaged in years. On his graceful reading of Emmylou Harris's signature "'Til I Gain Control Again," Morrison sounds like warmed molasses to Nelson's añejo tequila. Like Nelson, though, Morrison exhales melodies and drapes over lyrics as if they're part of his DNA.
Pay the Devil:
You Don't Know Me:
For information on where to find our Download This picks, go to www.people.com/downloadthis