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Phosphorescent: To Willie




Album: To Willie
Label: Dead Oceans

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Singer-songwriter Matthew Houck of Phosphorescent borrowed more than Willie Nelson’s songs for his tribute record To Willie. Houck also learned a thing or two about song interpretation from a man who has covered—and come to own—tunes popularized by Paul Simon, Hoagy Carmichael, and Kermit The Frog. Rather than attempting to match the scope of Nelson’s music—a tall task considering that it touches on country, rock, jazz, standards, and pretty much every other popular genre of the past hundred years other than hip-hop—Houck has crafted a playlist that fits squarely in the ethereal folk wheelhouse he established on 2007’s Pride, choosing songs like “It’s Not Supposed To Be That Way” and “Can I Sleep In Your Arms,” which require only a soft nudge to become dreamy indie-rock ballads. To Willie isn’t a particularly dynamic record—even “I Gotta Get Drunk” sounds sensitive—but Houck has succeeded in communicating his own musical vision through Nelson’s songs, an achievement to which Nelson himself would no doubt raise a glass.