Moment of Forever

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Sometimes it seems that Willie Nelson’s career is an ongoing science project in which the countr legend combines his own unmistakable chemical makeup with a variety of unpredictable elements. Recently, he has recorded with everyone from Merle Haggard and Ray Price (Last of the Breed) to alt-country critics’ darling Ryan Adams (Songbird). But perhaps the most surprising matchup yet is Moment of Forever, produced by Kenny Chesney and the country superstar’s longtime studio partner, Buddy Cannon.

Willie’s ragged-but-right old-school approach and Kenny’s shiny modern sound could have made for a toxic compound, but Moment is instead an intriguing little mixture. Willie’s weathered voice and outbursts of jazzy gut-string guitar soloing make for a compelling contrast with the sleek sonic backdrop. The real key to Moment’s appeal, though, is a set of outstanding songs that includes both attractive Willie originals and smartly chosen covers like Kris Kristofferson’s tender title cut. Call this experiment a success.

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