Phosphorescent – To Willie
Imagine a young alt-country hipster taking on the Willie Nelson canon; we all know it could be one of two things... Luckily it’s a great record and a fair tribute, even down to the LP’s title, and if you’re new to Willie Nelson’s music I personally think it’s a great place to start. The opening track, Reasons to Quit is an absolute killer, layers of subtle instrumentation topped by Matthew Houck’s incredibly rich, ever so slightly cracked voice.
The tracks on this LP aren’t the ones you’d expect, there’s no Whiskey River or Always on My Mind, say. Rather its choc-full of the songs Nelson wrote after spending serious time in the bar. For this is definitely a record for the hangover, or the melancholy reflection. You’d suspect the instrumentation is deliberately sotto enough for you to play this record after one too many in the old Legless Arms the previous night.
Apart from the opener, check out the magnificent job Houck’s done on Heartaches of a Fool. Somehow his voice hits just the right note of regret and is supported beautifully throughout by a super-soft pedal steel part. And the way the song stumbles to a close is brilliant. Light relief is given to all this melancholy with the finale; The Party’s Over, a woozy, wobbly camp-fire incantation.
Words: Richard Foster