BY JOHN B. MOORE
Even at 84, Willie Nelson shows no signs of slowing down, but it’s clear he’s cognizant that everyone else is likely wondering just how much longer he has. The long since grayed, Red Headed Stranger makes a point of saying he’s not through yet throughout God’s Problem Child, his 70th or so album (yes, 70-plus records). “You had your run/It’s been a good one/Seems like the world is passing you by… Still got a lot of life and a song to sing,” Nelson says on “Old Timer,” one of the record’s early tracks. And if the point isn’t clear enough, he brings it back up on the addictively twangy “Not Dead Yet” (“I run up and down the road making music as I go/They say my pace would kill a normal man/But I’ve never been accused of being normal anyway”).
With God’s Problem Child, Nelson proves yet again that it is in fact possible, though unusual, to be both wildly prolific and consistently great. Seven decades after he started writing for others, he shows yet again that there is still plenty of poetry left inside him. Take a song like, “True Love,” you’d have to go back to “Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain” or “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” to find a more lyrically beautiful Nelson love song.
There is also plenty of his tongue-in-check humor though out as well, like on the previously-mentioned “Not Dead Yet,” and lots of swagger, like on the title track, a slow-burn song that is all attitude featuring the late Leon Russell, Jamey Johnson and Tony Joe White. There is also a sweet song about the late Merle Haggard, a constant Nelson collaborator and longtime friend, “He Won’t Ever Be Gone.”
From start to finish, God’s Problem Child is a quintessential Willie Nelson record and there are few things in the world better than that.
DOWNLOAD: “True Love,” “Not Dead Yet” and “I Made a Mistake”