First Appeared in The Music Box, January 2005, Volume 12, #1
Written by John Metzger
There always has been a bit more to Merle Haggard’s style than the Bakersfield-bred country sounds with which he is most closely associated, and on his latest endeavor Unforgettable, he offers proof that throughout his career he has drawn as much inspiration from Nat King Cole as he has from Bob Wills. In combining nine standards with a trio of contemporary compositions, the outing highlights Haggard’s skill as a vocalist and an interpreter of others’ works rather than emphasizing his talent as a composer. Not surprisingly, the results are suitably relaxed and congenial, striking a pose similar to that of Willie Nelson’s 26-year-old classic Stardust (or Marty Robbins’ 1962 effort Marty After Midnight, for that matter). Spiced with subtle hints of Nashville, the dozen tracks on Unforgettable — which include such notably familiar fare as I Can’t Get Started, You’re Nobody ’Til Somebody Loves You, As Time Goes By, and Pennies from Heaven — are lovingly embraced by their sparse arrangements, and the gentle touch of guitar, saxophone, fiddle, and strings creates a warm and cozy environment for the lustrous songs. Still, it’s Haggard’s soulful croon that lifts the material far above the type of simple, rote regurgitation that customarily fills collections of cover tunes such as this, and consequently, Unforgettable becomes a stirring return-to-form for a legendary honky-tonk hero. ˝
Of Further Interest...
Unforgettable is available
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box