July 24, 1978 12:00 PM

Willie Nelson

Some reclassification might be in order, since it’s a little incongruous for an outlaw to sing Blue Skies and Moonlight in Vermont. But these Nelson versions of pop standards demonstrate just how close his Texas country style is to mainstream jazz. (The answer to the corollary question—could Sinatra sing country?—may come if the album of Nelson tunes Ol’ Blue Eyes recorded ever gets past a legal tangle over composer royalties.) While there are some embarrassing moments—notably when Nelson strains painfully on the higher reaches of Unchained Melody—his attention to lyrics and the resonance of his voice work as well on music from Tin Pan Alley as they do on what came from Interstate 35 in Willie’s hometown of Abbott.

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