Willie Nelson’s on the grass. But this time it’s blue.
Bluegrass is one of the hottest commodities in country music at the moment. All the more reason for Willie Nelson to jump on the bandwagon and release twelve of his solo written signature songs interpreted in bluegrass style. This is what will comprise his newest album Bluegrass to be released on September 15th.
Once again produced by long-time collaborator Buddy Cannon and released on Sony’s Legacy Recordings, top-shelf bluegrass greats Rob Ickes (dobro), Dan Tyminski (mandolin), Aubrey Haynie (fiddle), Ron Block (banjo), Josh Martin (acoustic guitar), Barry Bales (upright bass), Seth Taylor (mandolin) and Bobby Terry (acoustic guitar, gut string guitar) collaborate to bring Willie Nelson songs to life within the bluegrass genre.
Willie’s harmonica player Mickey Raphael also makes appearances, as does Wyatt Beard, Buddy Cannon, and daughter Melonie Cannon as background vocalists. Willie son Micah Nelson designed the cover art.
It’s quite remarkable when you consider that Willie Nelson reached the ripe old age of 90 in April, has released nearly 100 original albums of one sort or another, but this is the first time he’s veering into the bluegrass realm. It’s another sign that bluegrass is on the way up with the success of Billy Strings, Molly Tuttle, and others shooing new life in to the country subgenre.
Willie Nelson has never really cited bluegrass as an influence on his music. Born in Texas and raised on Western Swing, it was Bob Wills who was Willie’s major influence as opposed to Bill Monroe. Nelson even got to perform with Bob Wills at an early age. Later Willie fell more in line with songwriting before becoming one of the primary catalysts for the Outlaw country movement.
Regardless, it’s hard to not be excited for a bluegrass album from Willie Nelson, who joins artists like Dwight Yoakam and Sturgill Simpson in reinterpreting their own catalogs bluegrass style. Willie has also showed over his last two studio albums that he’s still very much vital when it comes to performing songs in the studio. His 2022 album A Beautiful Time deservedly won the Grammy for Best Country Album, and his Harlan Howard tribute album from March called I Don’t Know a Thing About Love featured surprising strength from Willie’s voice.
Constantly on tour yet still finding time to get in the studio and release two albums a year, Willie Nelson isn’t slowing down any time soon. And fans are here for it.
The song “You Left Me a Long, Long Time Ago” is available now. Bluegrass is also available for pre-order.
1. No Love Around
2. Somebody Pick Up My Pieces
3. Good Hearted Woman (co-written with Waylon Jennings)
4. Sad Songs And Waltzes
5. Home Motel
6. You Left Me A Long, Long Time Ago
7. Yesterday’s Wine
8. Bloody Mary Morning
9. Slow Down Old World
10. Still Is Still Moving To Me
11. On The Road Again
12. Man With The Blues