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Country Music ()

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Naturally, the not-so-unspoken joke behind the title of Willie Nelson's 2010 album is that it's been so long since he's played straight country music, he needs to clearly label it when he does. Of course, that's not strictly true: just as recently as 2009 he was ripping it up with Asleep at the Wheel, turning out a straight-ahead western swing record that is every bit as country as Country Music, although it is true that he's never quite cut a collection of country music as hushed and muted as this. The soft-plucked string bass and strummed acoustic guitars are trademarks of T-Bone Burnett, the roots music producer whose well-tailored analog impressionism fetishizes authenticity, prizing every piece of pristinely preserved vintage equipment and then recording them immaculately, often with appealing results. There's a nicely weathered assurance to Nelson's performance -- his voice never strains, he throws off licks with a casual virtuosity -- and he sounds like an old pro happy to play with whoever is in the studio, happy to sing whatever the producer puts in front of him. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi Hide synopsis

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