Willie Nelson

Last Man Standing

Legacy Recordings

He's still performing at 84-years old, so when Willie Nelson calls himself the last man standing, he isn't joking. Nevertheless, there are plenty of laughs to be had on his latest album.

That knowing title is reflective of the morbid wit that peppers the lyrics, as is Bad Breath's refrain that it's "better than no breath at all", or the kicker to She Made My Day – "but she ruined my life".

Nelson delivers these quotable songs in characteristically easy going style. In voice and manner, he could pass for someone 40 years younger. Not dwelling on the past, he even makes reference to smart phones on I Ain't Got Nothing.

Musically, The sound is straight out of the Texas honky-tonks; all barrel-roll piano, harmonica and Nelson's distinctive guitar playing. it will win no prizes for innovation, but considering he helped invent this sort of music in the first place, that's easily forgiven.

James Robinson



While comparisons with Jeff Buckley must be pretty tiring to Scott Matthews by now, 11 years on from his beautiful debut Passing Strangers they remain difficult to escape.

But whereas Buckley's songs soar and challenge, Matthews' similarly desolate vibrato brings with it more of a feeling of safety: like being wrapped in a warm blanket in front of your favourite black-and-white movie.

In some ways, The Great Untold sees the Wolverhampton singer-songwriter beat a similar path to that first record, one that propelled him to an Ivor Novello win for the stunning single Elusive.

But though it sees Matthews return to little more than a guitar and his own layered vocals, his seventh record borrows far more heavily from the mid-century folk canons of Nick Drake and John Martyn.

Certainly, Matthews sounds like a man more comfortable in his own skin these days, but a sad side-effect is the absence of the dark, brooding undertones that were so entrancing when he burst on to the scene.

Nonetheless, if breezy, heartful folk sounds up your street, highlight Song To A Wallflower is a good taster of what to expect: offering sweet and tender storytelling without reinventing the wheel.

Stephen Jones