Album Review: Feeling Mortal by Kris Kristofferson
Great, Based on 8 Critics
Paste Magazine - 80 Based on rating 8.0/10
At 76, Kris Kristofferson is one of Americana’s true icons. A witness to old-school hillbilly music, rock’s excess, punk’s rebellion and modern country, the Rhodes Scholar with an emphasis on William Blake’s poetry has figured how to transcend all—and he’s created timeless Wurlitzer music. For all the bare-bones arrangements on Feeling Mortal, Kristofferson’s first on his own label, it is that ragged voice like a rusty hinge that sets the tone for these songs about the inevitable tapering of life.
Even if its title were different, there still might not be a more death-obsessed 28th album in the history of music than Kris Kristofferson’s latest offering, Feeling Mortal. Sure, the singer has always had a knack for the macabre anyway, but there’s an acutely subliminal element of increased levity within the texture of these 10 songs that makes this a particularly striking—and strikingly memorable—set. Originally recorded over three days with mega-producer Don Was, Feeling Mortal is the perfect Kris Kristofferson record: short, dark and simple.
Considering that the title is Feeling Mortal, the subject matter of Kris Kristofferson’s new album shouldn’t be much of a surprise to listeners. This is a collection of songs about the unforgiving nature of old age, the regrets that accumulate over the passing years, and the hard-earned wisdom that comes too late in life to make much of a difference. Nor is there much surprise in the way that Feeling Mortal is rendered.
More death, Vicar? Aged 76, KK faces down the Reaper…When Dos Was penned the sleeve notes for Kris Kristofferson’s 1996 album A Moment Of Forever, he didn’t shrink from the superlatives. Kristofferson, he suggested, offered the emotional directness of Hank Williams, and the poetic artistry and intellect of Bob Dylan circa Blonde on Blonde.Well, no one could live up to that, and A Moment Of Forever didn’t, quite. Perhaps Was misstated his case, because Kristofferson’s gift has always been to blend the conventions of the best country music – the cask-conditioned hard stuff – with narrative.
Feeling Mortal is about as honest a title as exists. Kris Kristofferson is 76 years old, and, with the exception of Willie Nelson and a couple of others, his peers -- Mickey Newbury, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Shel Silverstein -- have moved on. There’s a certain loneliness in that. These 12 songs look back over the periods -- and people -- who have graced Kristofferson's amazing life.
From its title to its artwork designed to look tattered around the edges, there’s something inherently moving about Kris Kristofferson’s new album. He hasn’t said it’s his swan song, but “Feeling Mortal” is among the most elegiac of his recent releases. “Wide awake and feeling mortal / At this moment in the dream / That old man there in the mirror / And my shaky self-esteem” are the first lines you hear on the opening title track, and that’s a heavy sentiment coming from one of country’s first and truest outlaws.
A streak of warm-hearted defiance courses through Kristofferson’s 28th album. Paul Whitelaw 2013 Long-haired, liberal, and influenced as much by Bob Dylan as Hank Williams, Kris Kristofferson typified a new breed of country artist when he emerged as a successful singer-songwriter in the early-70s. The author of such immortal Nashville standards as Help Me Make It Through the Night and Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down, this rugged poet also enjoyed a concurrent career as a film actor, which for many years threatened to overshadow his musical endeavours.