Album Review: To All the Girls... by Willie Nelson
Very Good, Based on 4 Critics
Record Collector - 80 Based on rating 4/5
The hardest-working octogenarian in country music, this is Nelson’s second release in his 80th birthday year, and a fine addition to a weighty catalogue already packed with duets. It may take its title from the two-hander hit he had with Julio Igelsias, but the album’s 18 tracks are strictly ladies invitations. On first listen, the old guard impress the most.
Arriving a few short months after the standards collection Let's Face the Music and Dance, which itself came less than a year after his Legacy debut Heroes, To All the Girls splits the difference between these two albums for Legacy. As a duets album comprised entirely of female partners, To All the Girls is, like Heroes, driven by superstar guest power but the intimate, relaxed feel is reminiscent of Let's Face the Music and Dance. Such a quiet, comfortable setting is welcoming to a wide variety of partners, ranging from living legends Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Mavis Staples, and Emmylou Harris to more recent superstars Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood.
"From Here to the Moon and Back," the pledge of eternal devotion (with Dolly Parton) that opens Willie Nelson's conceptual collection of duets with women, has major wedding-dance potential. But several of the pairings that follow lament unions that couldn't work. Nelson's partners, sometimes updating songs he cut years ago, span the country spectrum from folk to pop.
Willie Nelson To All the Girls (Legacy) A Willie Nelson duets album? Is there anyone who hasn't duetted with Willie already? Apparently, there are 18 women who haven't, but they all get their chance here, including some of country music's first ladies (Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris), revisiting Willie classics ("Bloody Mary Morning" with Wynonna Judd, "Always on My Mind" recast as a torch song with Carrie Underwood). There's even a ride through CCR's "Have You Ever Seen the Rain" with daughter Paula that surprises as much for its subdued arrangement as for its choice. The best part: an aptly soulful take on Bill Withers' "Grandma's Hands," featuring the authoritative pipes of none other than Mavis Staples.