Album: Merle Haggard, I Am What I Am (Vanguard)

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The Independent Culture

He's 72 now and as frank as ever.

The ways of the world better watch their backs round Merle, lest he call their bluff. He's been there, done the time, worn the unattractive utility underwear.

Here's a new suite of pithy observations, from "Love's always pretty when it's new" and "I've seen many a great tomorrow turn to yesterday" to the defiant epithet of the album title, and if he never sounds as warm and kindly as a sainted gran'pappy, then it's high time we understood that that's someone else's job.