Published Jun 17, 2014Willie Nelson's music is Artisan Country by this point — finely crafted art in a traditional medium that caters to a specific niche. It means that while the work is consistent and solid, it's rarely exciting. Much of the first half Band of Brothers slumps along and starts to bleed together. That's not to say that Willie is no longer capable of dropping a song that reaches great depths of emotional songwriting: the ode to lovesickness "Whenever You Come Around" is truly heartbreaking and might be Nelson's best vocal moment on the album. The bizarre ode to infidelity, "Wives and Girlfriends," isn't without its old-man charm, either.
The second half of the record is where the whole affair really picks up. "The Git Go," with its haunting lilt and a wonderful guest spot from Jamey Johnson, is a dark, anti-war burner that seeps its way through the ears. "Band of Brothers," an ode to Nelson's traveling band, lightens up the mood a bit but retains just a little "us vs. them" world mentality. "Hard to be an Outlaw" stomps its way through the frustration of a man who's lost his identity. Like much of Willie's work these days, Band of Brothers might not bring many new fans into the fold, but it's sure to please those already there. (Sony Music)