Some six decades into a career that has spawned some of country music's most memorable songs, the seemingly indefatigable, always iconoclastic Willie Nelson remains his own greatest creation and achievement. With that deeply lined, warmly weathered face and voice to match, Nelson is at this point as much an American landmark and cultural icon as he is a pop artist. At 74, he has played and been just about everything to everyone: outlaw country singer, aging hippie, Hollywood movie star, Farm Aid champion. "Forever" reaffirms his status as an artist of enduring vitality who waltzes with ease and comfort across genres and generations. Teaming with country superstar-turned-producer Kenny Chesney and Buddy Cannon, Nelson delivers a gracefully subdued, artfully burnished set of originals and covers that moves nimbly from the moodily atmospheric Americana of "Over You Again" (one of three tracks penned or co-written by Nelson) to Kris Kristofferson's hymnal "Moment of Forever" to a darkly meditative reading of Dave Matthews's "Gravedigger." Only the big, brass-and-beat-driven jam of Bob Dylan's "Gotta Serve Somebody" sounds rote and vocally half-hearted. Elsewhere, soft acoustic guitar touches and flourishes of piano, percussion, and accordion shine gently on the Chesney-penned benediction "I'm Alive," which sounds tailor-made for a man whose music is sure to endure.
Moment of Forever
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