Willie Nelson just turned 80 years old in April and Let’s Face the Music and Dance was released to celebrate his birthday. It proves two things: A) Willie Nelson can still sing anything, and B) Anything Nelson sings will sound like it was always meant to be a Willie Nelson song.
With the exception of the Nelson original “Is the Better Part Over?,” the songs here lean heavily to classics from the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s, when Nelson was growing up and when he was a young man. They range from the Irving Berlin classic that gives the CD its name to a French instrumental, “Vous et Moi,” to a slower, bluesier version of Carl Perkins’ rockabilly classic “Matchbox.”
Nelson’s voice has lost not one whit of its fullness, warmth, and charm. He sings everything with ease and inimitable style. Here he performs with his sister Bobbie and longtime band members Mickey Raphael and Paul English, who have been performing with Nelson as long as this reviewer can remember. This is one family that performs together in perfect harmony.
It is very hard to pick favorite tracks here. The American classics “Walking My Baby Back Home,” “Twilight Time,” “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love,” “South of The Border,” and “Marie” are perfect for Nelson’s voice and laid-back style. They will make you feel relaxed and put a smile on your face. They are probably my personal favorites, but every track here is equally good and you are just as likely to prefer any of the others.
Nelson is, of course, country, but he also defies genre. Here, he handles Latin-influenced pop, Tin Pan Alley ballads, jazz, and country blues with equal ease. He never strains, nor does the band. Everything works together smoothly, with style and class.
With Let’s Face the Music and Dance, Willie Nelson and Family prove that age changes nothing when a great talent choose to create entertaining and quality music. It will make you eager to see if Nelson will still be making great music when he’s 100. And he just might. In the meantime, get this one. It will find a frequent home on your playlist.