'Willie and the Wheel'


Now is as good a time as any to revive Western Swing, the sanguine style of music that swept through dance halls during the Great Depression, said J. Freedom du Lac in the Washington Post. And who better than Willie Nelson to breath life into lost standards of the American Southwest? “One of the first great albums of 2009,” Willie and the Wheel is a lively, freewheeling “romp through the American genre” that brought together country, rural folk, blues, jazz swing and Dixieland. And Nelson has found the “perfect partners” in Western Swing preservationists Asleep at the Wheel.

Bandleader Ray Benson and his “top-notch players” capture the essence of that period, said Ken Tucker in Billboard. With Nelson’s weathered, earthy warble front and center, they wonderfully execute a musical concept that took decades to complete. Each song, from “Hesitation Blues” to the sublime “I’m Sittin’ on Top of the World,” sounds “so authentic,” you’ll forget it’s 2009.