April 13, 2005

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Kris Kristofferson, This Old Road
New West, 2006

Folks who know Kris Krisofferson only through his appearances as “Whistler” in the Blade the Vampire Hunter movies probably don’t know he also co-starred with Barbra Streisand in 1976’s lauded A Star is Born.

And the people who know him from 1976 might not remember that he gave “Bobby McGee” to Janis Joplin and landed a helicopter on Johnny Cash’s lawn to get him to record “Sunday Morning Coming Down” (1970’s Song Of The Year, according to the Country Music Association).

Well, the gravel-voiced Kristofferson has returned to his first, best thing — writing truly American songs — with his new album This Old Road. Produced by Don Was, this is Kristofferson at his best — a guitar, thoughtful lyrics and a voice well-seasoned with age and Jack Daniels.

At first listen, the lyrics seem to be saying that Kristofferson has mellowed. He gave up drinking in 1976 — after he had gotten to the point of drinking a bottle and a half of Jack a day — and the late '90s and '00s have seen a renewed focus on his music and acting careers. He’s happy now, as he admits in “Thank You for a Life” — “Thank you for a life that I’d call happy.”

But listen again, and you will hear there is still a lot of fire in his words, double meaning in his lyrics and a deep respect in his heart for other “outlaw” musicians, such as Cash, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.

This Old Road is a meaty, well-marinated album from start to finish — possibly the best of Kristofferson’s career. A+
— Robert Greene


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