TAS Rated 3.5/5 Music, 4/5 Sonics in the July/August 2021 Issue of The Absolute Sound!
Honoring the enduring inspiration of Frank Sinatra, That's Life is Willie Nelson's second album of classics made famous by The Chairman Of The Board. Willie's first ode to Frank, 2018's My Way, earned Willie the Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Solo Album, and That's Life finds Nelson (who has penned a few standards himself) inhabiting 11 more of the most treasured songs in the Great American Songbook including the title track, "Luck Be A Lady", "Nice Work If You Can Get It", "I've Got You Under My Skin", "You Make Me Feel So Young" and "I Won't Dance" (a duet featuring Diana Krall).
Produced by Buddy Cannon and Matt Rollings, That's Life was recorded at Capitol Studios in Hollywood - where Frank Sinatra, created a string of album masterpieces - with additional recording at Pedernales Studios in Austin, Texas.
Willie delivers 11 new studio performances, coming alive in a musical landscape animated by lush string and vibrant horn arrangements on an album mixed by recording industry legend Al Schmitt (who's recorded and mixed more than 150 gold and platinum albums and won more Grammy Awards than any other engineer or mixer). The album cover features a brand new painting of Willie and his iconic guitar, Trigger, standing in the glow of a twilight streetlamp, evoking classic Sinatra album covers of yore.
Willie sounds younger here than he has in years. He seems to be singing with a smile, as buoyed by his band as he is by these standards, a quality that gives That's Life an endearing kick.
Willie's approach is understated; a few soaring moments in 'I've Got You Under My Skin' make me wish for more, but I'll take understatement over maudlin. In 'You Make Me Feel So Young,' a little grit in the clarity of his voice makes the sentiment believable; there's some outstanding trumpet work, too. Willie really sells 'That's Life,' his ups and down coming through clear as a bell. 'In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning' walks a fine line between affection and regret. Shilkret & Austin's 'Lonesome Road' is the finale here, and while the Red-Headed Stranger is more foreboding than Ol' Blue Eyes, neither comes close to Rafe Hollister on the Andy Griffith Show or Bob Dylan's appropriation on 'Sugar Baby' (Love and Theft). Still, That's Life is a solid RBI. There's little twang, and the concise arrangements are for a mostly acoustic combo complemented occasionally by brass or a bouquet of strings.
- Vinyl LP
- Mixed by Al Schmitt
- Nice Work If You Can Get It
- Just In Time
- A Cottage For Sale
- I've Got You Under My Skin
- You Make Me Feel So Young
- I Won't Dance (featuring Diana Krall)
- That's Life
- Luck Be A Lady
- In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning
- Learnin' The Blues
- Lonesome Road