Album: Willie Nelson <!-- none onestar twostar fourstar fivestar -->

Countryman, LOST HIGHWAY
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The Independent Culture

Other than a shared interest in ganja, it's hard to figure what links country music's most weatherbeaten performer and reggae music. But such is Willie's affection for the genre that he's gone and made a reggae album, comprising Rasta-fied versions of his own material, with Willie-fied readings of Jamaican classics such as "Sitting In Limbo" and "The Harder They Come". Produced by Richard Feldman, who helmed last year's True Love collection of crossover duets by Toots Hibbert, Countryman makes a fairly convincing case for this particular form of musical miscegenation. Songs such as "I've Just Destroyed the World" and "You Left a Long, Long Time Ago" demonstrate a natural fit of the two genres, while "The Harder They Come" shines under the application of some lovely Dobro licks and funky, syncopated harmonica. The opener "Something To Think About" offers a smooth confluence of pedal steel, offbeat organ stabs and dubbed drum exclamations, with Nelson's distinctive delivery providing a calm centre. Elsewhere, Toots repays Willie's duet on True Love by adding an urgency to their version of Johnny Cash's "I'm a Worried Man". An unexpectedly pleasing alliance of styles.

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