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We Are Millard South

The Student Journalism Site of Millard South High School

We Are Millard South

The Student Journalism Site of Millard South High School

We Are Millard South

Willie Nelson’s ‘Bluegrass’ a lovely return to country’s roots

Artist+Statement%3A+Outlined+with+a+fine+tip+pen%2C+I+chose+to+draw+a+radio+that+I+had+always+seen+growing+up.+I+knew+I+wanted+to+involve+Nelsons+face+into+the+art+and+decided+to+draw+him+and+the+instruments+he+was+known+for+playing+in+his+music+into+the+screen+of+the+radio.+I+wanted+to+show+just+how+his+music+reached+his+listeners.
Ali Arias
Artist Statement: Outlined with a fine tip pen, I chose to draw a radio that I had always seen growing up. I knew I wanted to involve Nelson’s face into the art and decided to draw him and the instruments he was known for playing in his music into the screen of the radio. I wanted to show just how his music reached his listeners.

It’s hard to say, but it feels like American country music is in a perpetual slump. Nowadays, really all you hear about the genre is the shiny, commercial, pop-infused sound that – together with stale bro-country where there’s nothing but pickup trucks and blue jeans as far as the eye can see – has dominated radio airplay and charts for over a decade.

That’s why it’s such a treat when something like Willie Nelson’s ‘Bluegrass’ comes around. In his 151st studio album outing, Nelson takes his folk-and blues-inspired progressive country style that has kept him in the limelight for nearly 70 years, and combines it with the bluegrass roots that form the very foundation of all American country music. The result is a much appreciated return to form for a genre in dire need of a shot in the arm. 

With 70 years of career success also comes decades of age; Nelson celebrated his 90th birthday back in April, and it seems that his age is beginning to preclude him from playing music the way he used to – so much so that Nelson’s only credited contributions to the album are lead vocals and songwriting. As such, the ‘Bluegrass’ project simply would not have been possible if it weren’t for the efforts of talented session musicians and producers under Nelson’s repertoire. There’s a hearty helping of banjo, mandolin, harmonica, and fiddle on every track, and each instrument lends a hand to the album’s warm and inviting acoustics. 

Each composition on the album is a Willie Nelson original, written by him for projects that debuted long ago (with the minor exception of ‘Good Hearted Woman,’ which was co-written by

Nelson and late outlaw country great Waylon Jennings). Particular stand-out tracks are ‘Slow Down Old World’ and ‘Still Is Still Moving To Me.’ The new bluegrass instrumentation takes Nelson’s previous recordings of ‘Slow Down Old World’ and drapes a chipper, upbeat instrumental spin over the song’s otherwise dower lyrics. Willie puts his heart and soul into the vocals of ‘Still Is Still Moving To Me,’ and his session musicians use their instruments to their fullest potential, laying down an introduction and steady rolling melody that are sure to pick you up off your feet. 

The album has very few faults: The chorus to ‘No Love Around’ is, admittedly, extremely repetitive – a significant obstacle for potential listeners, no doubt, as it is the first track – but that fault lies squarely with Willie’s old songwriting, and certainly not the album. Nelson’s sound is obviously far from groundbreaking, but sometimes all it takes to make something special is a solid foundation and a dedication to music. 

Put together, ‘Bluegrass’ feels so familiar, so homely, and so heartwarming. At the same time, the rejuvenated and lively iteration of some of Willie’s sad, old-time standards deals the listener a lovely surprise with each passing track, and keeps them engaged right down to the very last note. All in all, ‘Bluegrass’ is undeniably a gift from an old-time country legend to old-time country fans, and it’s definitely worth a listen. 

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About the Contributors
Chase Zagurski
Chase Zagurski, Reporter
Chase is a senior. This is his first year on the newspaper staff. Outside of academics, Chase enjoys swimming, shooting, playing video games, and listening to music.
Ali Arias
Ali Arias, Artist
Ali is a senior and this is her first year on the newspaper staff. Outside of school, Ali enjoys finding new music to share and spending hours working on a new art piece. She takes many things as inspiration for her art and prioritizes critiquing.
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