Phosphorescent: To Willie

Music Reviews Willie Nelson
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Phosphorescent: <em>To Willie</em>

Brooklyn songwriter cherry picks Nelson's catalog just right

Brooklyn-relocated Athens, Ga., artist Matthew Houck picked Nelson's saddest tracks for this tribute, which fits his own discography. Nelson's more riotous tunes would ring false for Phosphorescent, but most of these move with a reserved grace. Houck's band adds authentic country textures to the tracks, and Ricky Ray Jackson's pliable steel guitar transforms songs like "Walkin'" into folk hymns and waltzes, more concerned with plainspoken charm than boasting and boozing. Houck's voice knows exactly when to crack, and when the material's as great as this, that's the only embellishment you need.