This Old Road

Studio Album by released in 2006
This Old Road's tracklist:
This Old Road
Pilgrims Progress
The Last Thing To Go
Wild American
In The News
The Burden Of Freedom
Chase The Feeling
Holy Creation
The Show Goes On
Thank You For A Life
Final Attraction

This Old Road review

Kristofferson’s most consistently compelling release in decades

After a lengthy period of struggle, Kris Kristofferson achieved remarkable success as a country songwriter at the start of the 1970s. His songs Me and Bobby McGee, Help Me Make It Through the Night, Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down, and For the Good Times, all chart-topping hits, helped redefine country songwriting, making it more personal and serious, much in the way that Bob Dylan's songs had transformed pop music songwriting in the mid-'60s. Though Kris Kristofferson has long seemed ageless, the approach of his 70th birthday plainly has the songwriter looking back, taking stock and coming to terms with his legacy and his mortality. The result is This Old Road, his most consistently compelling release in decades, as well as his most stripped-to-the-bone intimate. This beautifully sparse recording, produced by Don Was (Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones), puts an emphasis on Kristofferson’s fine lyrics and distinctive voice by featuring Kris, his guitar, and harmonica. Subtle accompaniment is added by Was (bass, piano, backing vocals), long-time sidekick Stephen Bruton (guitar, mandolin, backing vocals) and Jim Keltner (drums). This Old Road comes off like an intimate demo, a personal performance for the listener. The record offers a perfectly balanced portrait of modesty and ambition. The songs combine the poetic grace of Kristofferson's early classics with a conviction that has grown stronger with the passing years.

The first recording of all new songs by Kristofferson in the 11 years

Kristofferson's strange career has been dotted with songs of appreciation for blessings, but it could more generally be characterized by songs of gentle protest, dissent, advocacy for compassion and an expansion of the cultural conscience. It should be no surprise that the overarching emotions he presents are anger, disappointment and resignation. This Old Road is the first recording of all new songs by Kris Kristofferson in the 11 years since Moment of Forever but the years haven't softened the old poet's social conscience – Pilgrim's Progress, Wild American, In the News, and The Burden of Freedom are every bit as radical as those found on his last two Mercury records, Repossessed and Third World Warrior in the mid-'80s. Wild Americans offers a roll call of outspoken heroes – from American Indian activist John Trudell to country maverick Steve Earle – while In the News lambastes the very concept of a holy war. But Kristofferson is also wise enough to believe in love and forgiveness – Thank You for a Life, The Last Thing to Go, Holy Creation, Final Attraction – and still remembers how to write a killer outlaw country song (Chase the Feeling). With the title cut, The Last Thing to Go, The Show Goes On, and Final Attraction, he takes a look back at the life of a troubadour and decides that, for all the bumps, this road has been one of incomparable rewards.

This Old Road is a welcome comeback for Kristofferson

Kris Kristofferson is one of the rarest of artists that can express heavy emotions in such a way that they are laid out for you to accept or reject on your own terms. He preaches without preaching. Like his compadres Dylan, Cohen, Nelson and Prine, Kris Kristofferson’s voice is showing the results of too much living, but it still can convey more passion and commitment than a chartful of boy bands. This Old Road is a welcome comeback for Kristofferson; as an artist, he proves he still has plenty to offer to anyone willing enough to listen. Kristofferson is dead-on here, razor-sharp, economical in his language, and to the bone in his insight. He has returned to the musical road, and it’s nice to have him as a fellow traveler once again. With Kristofferson's 70th birthday looming on the horizon, it is perhaps no surprise that he spends a lot of time reminiscing on this laid-back disc. But it definitely is a surprise – and a pleasant one – to learn that age has diminished neither the purity of his vision nor the spark that drives his songcraft. Let's hope he doesn't make us wait another decade to hear it again.

(14.03.2006)
Rate review3.53
Total votes - 13


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