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January 31, 2008

Willie Nelson, 'Moment of Forever'



Willie Nelson can do anything.

He has always stood in opposition to the glossy Nashville sound of country music, but occasionally returns to its embrace as if drawn by some strange gravity.

On his latest release, "Moment of Forever," the big-city pop sound is applied by coproducers Buddy Cannon and Kenny Chesney.

Nelson has done albums with a series of celebrity producers over the past decade, providing his usual mix of brokenhearted ballads, sly novelties and one-sided discussions with God. While Nelson remains a singular and iconic voice at 74, those he enlists don't always understand how to present the genre's master songwriter.

The album's opener, "Over You Again," is a fine example. It begins sedately with slide guitar pushing along Nelson's familiar strum, a little bright piano. Instruments are added, the volume rises, a chorus of polished voices enters the room and eventually Nelson is lost in all the traffic. And another beautiful scattergun guitar solo from Nelson is completely wiped away in the mix.

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And we could've done without the brassy horns on "Takin' on Water" and Nelson's take on Dylan's gospel dalliance, "Gotta Serve Somebody."

But as usual, Nelson invites you in to sit down for an hour of good times. He's warm and engaging, as always, and his albums arrive like phone calls from lifelong friends.

- By The Associated Press

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