Moment of Forever

Though he’d likely prefer a live afternoon session with his Family Band, Willie Nelson , to his credit, occasionally loosens his laissez-faire hegemony enough to let a producer take charge in the studio. The results, a far cry from his more casual recordings, are sometimes real successes (1993’s Across the Borderline , produced by Don Was, was a standout). Moment of Forever (Lost Highway), like the recent (and reportedly tense) Ryan Adams–produced sessions, finds a recording artist behind the board, but this time it’s multiplatinum hit maker Kenny Chesney (co-producing with Nashville veteran Buddy Cannon). Chesney puts up muscular backing tracks and keeps the tempos moving, breathing life into the set. It’s quite a glossy environment for Willie—it sounds as if multiple takes and overdubs were used—but the change of scenery is fascinating. New originals “Always Now” and “Over You Again” have the classic Willie touch, as does Kris Kristofferson’s title song, and a Chesney duet enlivens a Guy Clark throwaway. As for the takes on Randy Newman and Bob Dylan . . . well, no producer makes all the right moves.

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