Feeling Mortal by Kris Kristofferson
At 76, Kris still has the soul of a poet and a writer’s observational skills, as finely demonstrated on Feeling Mortal, his first new album of original material in four years.
Mostly, the poetry and human insights are self-directed, as Kris is seemingly coming to grips with his own mortality. The first line of the title track declares that he’s wide awake and feeling mortal, leading to the eventual hook line, I’ve begun to soon descend / Like the sun into the sea. “Castaway” pleasantly drifts into a similar direction, using a small fishing vessel with torn and tattered sails as a metaphor for his aging countenance.
Of particular interest to longtime fans is “My Heart Was the Last One to Know,” a heartfelt ballad written years ago with Shel Silverstein and previously recorded by Connie Smith.
Kris delivers the songs in a world-weary yet captivating manner, sounding more like a fascinating old friend rather than a self-pitying stranger. The straightforward, simple production by the esteemed Don Was helps drive home the messages and Kris’ incisive lyrics.
Feeling Mortal ends with a tip-of-the-cap tribute to Kris’ friend and musical hero Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.