It’s been awhile since Willie’s put out an album free of themes. His last few, his partnerships with Asleep At the Wheel and Wynton Marsalis (those are two separate pairing, by the way), while good, seemed to be more about changing things up after 60 or so studio albums (and that’s not a typo) than continuing his legacy as one of this country’s greatest musical treasures. Hyperbole aside, you could not built a Mount Rushmore of American musicians without putting his face on it.
Heroes is Willie writing about what he knows best: heartache, having a good time, Texas and weed. And all is right with the world again. Like just about every album he’s put out since the 70’s, he’s not shy about bringing his friends and family into the studio to help him out. The pairings this time around include many of his longtime friends and collaborators (Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, Billie Joe Shaver and Sheryl Crow), his kids (Lukas and Micah) and Snoop Dogg. And before you start shaking your head, Snoop sings just a handful of lines and complements Willie’s equally-laid back, nasal delivery on “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” a song destined to become yet another anthem for those of us living in Willie Nation.
Along with “Roll Me Up,” Heroes is also notable for “Come on Back Jesus,” wry Willie at is best and his heartbreaking cover of “The Scientist” (leave it to the Red Headed Stranger to finally make Coldplay cool again). At 78, if anyone has earned some time away from the studio it’s Mr. Nelson, but thank God it hasn’t dawned on him yet.
Willie Nelson – Heroes/14 tracks/Legacy Records/2012