Kris Kristofferson was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, dated Janis Joplin and Barbra Streisand, married Rita Coolidge, formed friendships with some of country music’s elite, acted in close to fifty films and won a Golden Globe Award, but most importantly has been an American songwriter of the highest caliber for close to four decades. During my college years in the early seventies Kristofferson was one of my early introductions to country music. His The Silver Tongued Devil and I, Border Lord, and Jesus Was A Capricorn consistently made their way to my turntable while sharing shelf space with Hendrix, Cream, The Jefferson Airplane, and a bevy of other rock artists. Even in the midst of my college haze I realized that he was creating songs of substance and clarity. These albums and a number of others that have appeared through the years have stood the test of time well.
Closer To The Bone is his new studio release and is similar in content and texture to 2006’s This Old Road. He is now 73 years old and his music reflects his seven plus decades of life. He is still the grand poetic storyteller and a traditional country/folk artist. His voice and acoustic guitar are backed by keyboardist Rami Jaffee, guitarist/mandolin player Stephan Bruton, drummer Jim Keltner and bassist/producer Don Was. He wisely keeps it simple with the focus on his lyrics.
The songs explore the human condition and run the gamete from love to loss to tributes. “Good Morning John” is a fitting farewell to his old friend Johnny Cash. “From Here To Forever” is for his children. The title song and “Starlight and Stone” are looking at life from the perspective of old age.
He composed ten of the tracks and co-wrote the eleventh and his ability to paint pictures with words and evoke an emotional response by the listener is very much intact.
Kris Kristofferson has nothing to prove. He has produced a quiet and contemplative album of authentic American music. Hopefully there will be more chapters in his continuing musical saga. Closer To The Bone is a worthy addition to his artistic legacy.