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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Phosphorescent - Pays homage to Willie Nelson, 3 July 2010
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: To Willie (Audio CD)
Like Mark Kozelek from Sun Kil Moon, Matthew Houck the guiding light of the alt country wonders Phosphorescent can write a mean tune or two (see the review of their latest "Here's to taking it easy") but he also happens to be one of the great cover artists and interpreters of modern times. This album which is both a tribute and reinterpretation of the songs of the veteran outlaw Willie Nelson confirms that Houck doesn't just understand the basic tenets of country music he could write the book. The fact in addition that he digs deeper into the repertoire of Nelson and resists the obvious covers (no "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain", On the road again or Always on my mind) and instead stresses the "outlaw" themes of drink, drunkenness, despair, downtime and dread make "To Willie" all the more special, and both a fantastic homage and a original contribution to the great canon of alt country.

The highlights arrive faster that than Usain Bolt in the Olympic stadium. Starting with "Reasons to Quit" a sad paean to the hopelessness of the demon drink but also the perils of life without it does set the tone. Thus we have those tender lost hope ballads that Nelson's fragile voice seem made for and which Houck doesn't just make his own, in some cases he betters them. Listen to the lovely and sad lament "Permanently Lonely" and try not to be moved, equally the heartache of the break up Tex Mex ballad "It's Not Supposed to Be That Way". Unsurprisingly "I gotta get drunk" picks the pace up and ends with the hilarious observation that -

"There's a lot of doctors tell me
That I'd better start slowing it down
But there's more old drunks than there are old doctors
So I guess we'd better have ourselves another round"

Yes its that kind of album, the world is a mess, the job is hell, your broke but there is always a bar and a bad woman! That said all this comes at a cost and ultimately there is a price to pay with "To sick to pray" charting with a glorious sadness the fate of a man staring into the doors of the next life. "To Willie" is weather beaten country of the heartbreak variety but with some great times along the way. It confirms that Houck is another great singer in this wonderful linage and when old Willie does depart his legacy is in very safe hands.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For Matthew, 16 Feb 2009
By 
A. Freeman (Bradford, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: To Willie (Audio CD)
At first I was dissappointed to discover this was the new Phosphorescent album, becauase I've never really been a Willie Nelson fan, but I love Matthew Houck's compositions on other Phosphorescent albums. But he has certainly put his stamp on these versions, despite it being a little too country for me. Can I Sleep In Your Arms is pure Phosphorscent, and is brilliant for it, while Permanently Lonely is ethereal and haunting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Album, 8 July 2014
By 
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This review is from: To Willie (Audio CD)
What a superb combination - Matthew Houck vs Willie Nelson. Nothing more needs to be said.
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To Willie
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