Phosphorescent | To Willie

Dead Oceans (2009)
By CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  February 3, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars

090206_phosphorescent_main
Phosphorescent

No stranger to ragged, defeatist country/folk (Phosphorescent's previous album, 2007's Pride, was a narcotic, wintry wonder), Matthew Houck and friends sound right at home on To Willie, a covers LP of 11 Willie Nelson favorites and rarities.

Houck's forthright, mundane voice saps some of the self-effacing wit from Nelson's soul-searching travelogues, but otherwise he milks his limited range for all it's worth: the multi-tracked refrain of "Reasons To Quit" bears the dignity and heft of gospel, and he's parched and cracked on the looser "I Gotta Get Drunk." His band likewise make the most of a familiar bag of tricks. Two fluttery Spanish guitars noodle through the pregnant pauses of "It's Not Supposed To Be That Way," and a saloon piano hides in the shadows of full-band treatments like "Pick Up the Tempo." (Most auspiciously, a liquidy synth backdrop out of "In the Air Tonight"–era Phil Collins makes a dreamy haze of Nelson's hammy "Permanently Lonely.")

To Willie could have a lost ballad and a roadhouse jam for variety's sake, but Houck's thoughtful curating makes it more than a fans-only stopgap.

  Topics: CD Reviews , Folk Music, Willie Nelson, Willie Nelson,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY CHRISTOPHER GRAY
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   CHARACTER IS POLITICAL  |  April 10, 2014
    Kelly Reichardt, one of the most admired and resourceful voices in American independent cinema, appears at the Portland Museum of Art Friday night to participate in a weekend-long retrospective of her three most recent films.
  •   LET'S TALK ABOUT SEX  |  April 09, 2014
    Throughout its two volumes and four hours of explicit sexuality, masochism, philosophical debate, and self-analysis, Nymphomaniac remains the steadfast vision of a director talking to himself, and assuming you’ll be interested enough in him to listen and pay close attention.
  •   ASHES AND DIORAMAS  |  March 28, 2014
    History, rather than ennui, is the incursion that motivates this, his most antic and most somber work.
  •   PASSION OF THE STRONGMAN  |  January 09, 2014
    The film’s aim is modest and powerful: to focus on the physical and psychological hurdles Schoeck must overcome not only to become a true strongman, but also to become an engaging performer.
  •   2013'S BEST FILMS ARE ONLY UNITED IN THEIR AUDACITY  |  December 19, 2013
     From murders to musings

 See all articles by: CHRISTOPHER GRAY