Merle Haggard Returns with 'Working in Tennessee'

Merle Haggard Returns with 'Working in Tennessee'
Even after being sidelined with lung cancer a few years ago and eventually overcoming the disease, Merle Haggard can't stop cranking out the hits. Over 40 years into his prolific career, the legendary outlaw country artist is back with yet another collection, Working in Tennessee.

A press release explains that despite its title, Haggard's latest, filled with a number of new originals and a couple of covers, was recorded and produced by the Hag and Lou Bradley at the singer's northern California Tally studio. Like the rest of his mighty back catalogue, the album "displays his masterly phrasing with alternately smooth tones and rough-hued vocals that deliver all the resonant interpretive impact he's known for."

Backed by longtime band the Strangers, the artist rips through the Western swing-styled title track, which is about his "oft-confrontational relationship with Music City." You can download the cut here or below.

Haggard knows how to take things down a notch though, as proved on vulnerable cuts like "Sometimes I Dream," which was co-written with daughter Jenessa. Haggard further keeps things in the family, duetting with wife Theresa on Johnny & June Cash standard "Jackson," while son Ben and old pal Willie Nelson stop by for a re-do of Haggard's "Working Man Blues."

The album goes to show that the septuagenarian is showing no signs of slowing down.

"I'm swinging back in full throttle right now. Music keeps me alive," the icon said in a statement. "It makes me breathe better. It's funny, but I feel better when I come off a tour than when I start out."

Working in Tennessee comes out October 4 on Vanguard.

Working in Tennessee:

1. "Working in Tennessee"

2. "Down on the Houseboat"

3. "Cocaine Blues"
4. "What I Hate

5. "Sometimes I Dream"

6. "Under the Bridge"

7. "Too Much Boogie Woogie"

8. "Truck Driver's Blues"

9. "Laugh It Off"

10. "Working Man Blues"

11. "Jackson"