Anyone who likes country-blues (especially the all-acoustic variety) will love this CD.
Firstly, the songs are the compositions of someone who needs no introduction, the legendary Jimmie Rodgers. Most of them are based on a 12-bar blues pattern, with the lyrics repeating the first verse twice over the first chord-change - a traditional form that was very dear to Rodgers. The words are a good reflection of depression-era themes, such as railroad hoboing (Hobo Bill), scrounging up a modest living (No hard time blues) and, of course, loving and leaving in their many facets (California blues, Jimmie's last Blue Yodel).
Haggard's vocal rendition is somewhat different then Rodgers,' but the result is equally engaging. While Rodgers' voice is haunting and languid, Haggard's is more round and palpable. Also, Haggard's yodeling is much less frequent, but when employed is extremely effective, equally "plodding" and never over-used. In a sense, it is by being completely himself that Haggard nails the spirit of Rodgers' songs.
The arrangements are one of the many strong suits of this CD. For the most part, pieces feature acoustic instruments - drums, bass, guitars, dobros (one played with the slide, the other a dobro-guitar), and blues-harp. A couple pieces have horns, played in a quasi-Dixieland style reminiscent of those in Rodgers' own recordings - while a violin, an electric guitar and a steel guitar surface in a minority of the tracks. Most pieces are moderate "2/4" two-steps, with the occasional waltz.
The accompaniment is provided by Haggard's own band (the Strangers) and the studio artists sometimes heard in his earlier recordings. Among the latter is none other than James Burton, one of the fathers of Country Guitar styles and, of course, the guitarist who toured with Elvis from 1969 to 1977. While most listeners are accustomed to hearing Burton's Telecaster, it is amazing to hear him pick away at a round-neck dobro with equal flair and musicianship (his fiery solo in "No hard time blues" is an oft-copied masterpiece).
Song-choice is varied and representative of Rodgers' output. Also, the recording is interspersed with a few (very brief) tracks of Haggard's narration of Rodgers' life and deeds - which can be easily skipped over once they are familiar to the listener.
Overall, I recommend this CD very enthusiastically to all who enjoy this style of music - a CD that has only strengths and no weaknesses.