American Classic finds Willie Nelson re-imagining Tin Pan Alley classics made popular by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, and the country star seems quite comfortable flying to the moon and singing among those stars. Nelson’s weathered voice is complemented by refined instrumentals from a collective of seasoned jazzmen on his Blue Note Records solo debut.
But even though he’s wearing a suit on the album cover, this country outlaw hasn’t completely cleaned up his act. A harmonica solo sounds perfectly at home with Nelson’s cheeky vocals on “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” a duet with Norah Jones. Meanwhile, the singer injects a tinge of world-weary sadness to remakes of “Fly Me to the Moon” and his own 1982 hit, “Always on My Mind.” At the age of 76, the Texas native proves that there is still plenty of stardust left under his cowboy hat.
Country crooner and well known musical progressive Willie Nelson has a winning reputation in the biz as being able to unanimously succeed in most any genre. That said, Nelson is releasing a solo effort of cheery jazz standards titled American Classic. The new release is Nelson’s first since 1978’s essential set of pop standards, Stardust. American Classic contains 12 tracks and is Nelson’s first release on the venerable jazz label Blue Note Recordings. American Classics also features a few of today’s most talented jazz vocalists including Diana Krall and Norah Jones. Grammy award winning producer Tommy LiPuma also works with Nelson on American Classic joined by Johnny Mandel as the album’s main composer.