Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard & Ray Price: The Last of the Breed
Let's be clear: Last of the Breed is a story - actually, a novel, if not an epic - unto itself. The title sums it up pretty well: On these two discs three classic performers, Ray Price, Willie Nelson, and Merle Haggard, band together on songs they've known and loved for years.
Their contributions don't need elaboration. Each is a legend. All three hark back to a time that's in some ways gone. When you consider the lives they've lived, the world that formed them as artists, and even the landscapes they knew as they began playing in beer joints and backwater clubs long ago, then the truth of those four words, Last of the Breed, comes clear.
Look a little closer, and they take on another reference, to the songs as well as to the giants who celebrate them here. Whether drawn from deep in the tradition, back from the well of Gene Autry, Lefty Frizzell, and Floyd Tillman, or picked from the more recent catalogs, this music conveys a feeling that might be mistaken for nostalgia but is in fact a timeless eloquence.
They don't write or sing 'em like this anymore.