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The Great Divide

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Album Review

Like most star-studded superstar comeback albums of the late '80s, '90s, and 2000s, Willie Nelson's The Great Divide isn't meant for longtime fans of the artists, or even the artists themselves; it's meant for listeners who always liked the idea or persona of the featured artist, but never liked the artist's music. That's certainly the case with The Great Divide, which finds Willie Nelson inexplicably recast as an adult alternative artist, singing songs written by Rob Thomas — who, not coincidentally, led Carlos Santana to the biggest hit of his career in 1999 — and other professional tunesmiths, all corralled by producer Matt Serietic. Since professionals are involved — including Nelson himself, who gives an admirable vocal performance throughout — this is an accomplished, classy album, but it sure as hell isn't a Willie Nelson album. The closest it comes is on the title track, the only song co-written by Nelson himself, and the Bernie Taupin co-written numbers, including a pretty good deliberate ballad called "Let Stand in Open Country" featuring Kid Rock. The rest is radio-ready adult pop, produced fairly well but not inherently interesting, no matter how professional it is. And that's the problem with the record; sure, it may get those who like Nelson the star, but if it alienates those who love his music, including his legions of quiet masterpieces from The Troublemaker to Rainbow Connection, then what's the point?

Customer Reviews

Not to be missed

Two tracks in I rewrote my personal descriptor of Willie Nelson from pot-smokin', tax-evading, country-music-man-my-momma-loved to a legend who stripped away all the posturing and pretense of classic country music to give us an album that reflects his mortality and gives us a peek at what life will be like in our seventies--old, wrinkled, remembering loves lost, victories won, battles fought and all the regrets that go with it. As if this isn't enough, the album is really great music, too, crossing multiple genres with artists like Kid Rock, Rob Thomas, Brian McKnight, and Bonnie Raitt. This is a must-have!

Pure Willie

Excellent album, whatever Willie sings he makes his own. It is too bad that very little music has the honesty you can feel in this album.

Not to be missed

One of willies best, bar none


Born: April 30, 1933 in Fort Worth, TX

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As a songwriter and a performer, Willie Nelson played a vital role in post-rock & roll country music. Although he didn't become a star until the mid-'70s, Nelson spent the '60s writing songs that became hits for stars like Ray Price ("Night Life"), Patsy Cline ("Crazy"), Faron Young ("Hello Walls"), and Billy Walker ("Funny How Time Slips Away") as well as releasing a series of records on Liberty and RCA that earned him a small but devoted cult following. During the early '70s, Willie aligned himself...
Full Bio