Music » CD Reviews

CD Review: Merle Haggard

Working in Tennessee (Vanguard)

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At this point in his career, Merle Haggard has nothing to prove. The country legend has seen it all, from prison to drug addiction to more career ups and downs than a dozen pop stars combined. So if his latest album sounds like it was recorded in 35 minutes, there's a pretty good chance that it was. But the 74-year-old singer settles into Working in Tennessee's songs like they're an old pair of boots, finding comfort and dependability tucked in the corners. Besides a pair of Johnny Cash covers, Haggard wrote all the songs himself, including a remake of his 1969 hit "Workin' Man Blues," with longtime pal Willie Nelson and son Ben Haggard helping out. The easygoing grooves — guided by old-timey fiddle, shuffling drums, and swing guitar — are in no hurry to get anywhere. It's a contagious vibe. — Michael Gallucci

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