Available: June 25th, 2021
Willie Nelson’s 1996 album Spirit is an emotional concept album illustrating the forlorn tale of a man abandoned by the great love of his life. We follow him down the path of loss as he confronts grief, gets back on his feet, and eventually finds solace in acceptance. While producing Spirit, Nelson assuredly knew the commercial risks behind releasing an album this melancholic. After all, in 1973 he himself wrote: “sad songs and waltzes ain’t selling this year.” Beloved by those familiar with Nelson’s deep catalog, Spirit largely slipped through the cracks in the mainstream, but remains highly revered amongst critics and fans alike.
Backed by legendary country fiddler Johnny Gimble (of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys), sister Bobbie Nelson on piano, and his longtime touring guitarist Jody Payne, the song-cycle is anchored by lilting Spanish-inspired instrumentals that absorb a lonesome gravity when placed next to ballads that tug at even the most unwavering heartstrings. Likened to Bob Dylan’s Time Out Of Mind or Waylon Jennings’ Right For the Time, Spirit sees Nelson maturing most gracefully: he trades rousing sing-alongs and saloon tunes for gut-wrenching lyrics and instrumentation of greater precision and skill, proving this release as deep and as challenging as his career-defining albums released twenty years before.
Originally released by Island Records in 1996, Spirit is newly remastered and housed in a gatefold jacket. This is a chance to own this unique album in its most beautifully presented form.