10 Songs, 32 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Billy Joe Shaver has lived a lower-profile life than his contemporary Willie Nelson, who joins him on “Hard to Be an Outlaw,” a song that nods to the Outlaw Country movement of the ’70s where both were stars. Shaver remained a first-rate country songwriter and a performer best known to his fellow musicians. At 75, it may be too late for him to reap grand commercial rewards. Yet the songs on his first album in six years—Long in the Tooth, produced by Ray Kennedy and Gary Nicholson—are proof that Shaver’s still a major talent who can teach the alt-country crowd a little something about singing and songwriting. “I’m in Love” is sung from the heart. “Last Call for Alcohol,” “Sunbeam Special," and “Music City USA” are played like true honky-tonk numbers. The title track stomps with defiance, turning its back on age and what it supposedly means. “The Git Go” is a tension-filled tale of fate through the centuries. The fiddle breaks out for a true country-waltz weeper, “I’ll Love You As Much As I Can.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

Billy Joe Shaver has lived a lower-profile life than his contemporary Willie Nelson, who joins him on “Hard to Be an Outlaw,” a song that nods to the Outlaw Country movement of the ’70s where both were stars. Shaver remained a first-rate country songwriter and a performer best known to his fellow musicians. At 75, it may be too late for him to reap grand commercial rewards. Yet the songs on his first album in six years—Long in the Tooth, produced by Ray Kennedy and Gary Nicholson—are proof that Shaver’s still a major talent who can teach the alt-country crowd a little something about singing and songwriting. “I’m in Love” is sung from the heart. “Last Call for Alcohol,” “Sunbeam Special," and “Music City USA” are played like true honky-tonk numbers. The title track stomps with defiance, turning its back on age and what it supposedly means. “The Git Go” is a tension-filled tale of fate through the centuries. The fiddle breaks out for a true country-waltz weeper, “I’ll Love You As Much As I Can.”

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