Review: Willie Nelson "American Classic"

Willie Nelson's new album will soothe the soul. In a world currently filled with Ponzi schemes, home foreclosures and plunging retirement accounts, "American Classic" provides listeners with a vacation from reality that reminds them of years gone by and better days ahead. In the tradition of Willie Nelson's critically acclaimed "Stardust," "American Classic" is one of the best albums of the year in any genre.

"American Classic" marries Willie Nelson's pure country voice with some of the best songs ever written. The result is musical magic that casts a spell that won't let you go. The album begins with the terrific "The Nearness Of You." Willie Nelson performs the classic track with an understated elegance. The album picks up the pace with "Fly Me To The Moon," which is a toe-tapping delight.

The biggest surprise on the album is Willie Nelson's reinterpretation of his classic "Always On My Mind." Nelson offers a contemporary twist that adds freshness and new life to the song, and the superb performance allows listeners to reconsider the excellent lyrics. "If I Had You" featuring Diana Krall also dazzles, and the combination of the artists' talent provides a sultry masterwork.

The best song on the album is Willie Nelson's duet with Norah Jones titled "Baby It's Cold Outside." The instrumentation and vocals are musical perfection, and the chemistry between Jones and Nelson is electric. "Since I Fell For You," "Because Of You" and "Ain't Misbehavin'" also sparkle, and the album has a terrific pace with top-notch production.

Willie Nelson famously had his own financial difficulties. On the "American Classic" album cover, Willie Nelson is holding a microphone to one side but looking confidently in the other direction with his head held high. It provides a subtle but powerful visual reminder that Nelson himself survived seemingly insurmountable financial pressure and came out of it a stronger man. No doubt, Willie Nelson's "American Classic" will help his fans do the same thing.