You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker
The Music Box's #5 album of 2006
First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2006, Volume 13, #4
Written by John Metzger
You Donít Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker is Willie Nelsonís finest outing in years, and thatís not just because it sounds better coming in the wake of his fully baked flop Countryman. For all of his genre-jumping diversions, Nelson always has been at his best when he has applied his casual, twang-infused drawl to lonesome outlaw ballads and whirling Western swing, and although some of his side treks have been enjoyable, many of them have been merely adequate. On You Donít Know Me, he gets back to his roots, literally, by tackling 13 tunes that were penned by Cindy Walker, a relative unknown who is, nonetheless, a legend among Texas-born songwriters. Her work has appeared within the repertoires of classic country artists, such as Gene Autry and Ernest Tubbs, though it was Bob Wills who utilized her material to create the soundtrack that played at countless dance halls during the 1940s.
Considering the tremendous influence that Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys had upon Nelsonís extensive canon, it isnít surprising that You Donít Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker is one of the most effortlessly inspired albums that the Red Headed Stranger ever has produced. Wisely, he doesnít try to make these tunes into something that theyíre not, and although he plays it safe by co-opting arrangements that Wills himself might have employed, Nelsonís renditions arenít mere replications of the past. With Tubbsí steel guitarist Buddy Emmons, Playboysí fiddler Johnny Gimble, and vocal act The Jordonaires in tow, Nelson brings Willsí legacy to life with a performance that is downright impeccable. He adds a sense of free-spirited playfulness to tracks like Donít Be Ashamed of Your Age, Miss Molly, and Itís All Your Fault, and he mines the deep-seated heartache and misery that lurks within Just Walkiní Out the Door and Take Me in Your Arms and Hold Me. Elsewhere, he deftly uses his voice to wrench every drop of emotion from Not that I Care, turning the songís superficial strength into a crushing lament; and despite the spry instrumentation, the sentiments expressed in Bubbles in My Beer are quietly devastating. Thereís little doubt that Nelson is so familiar with the material on You Donít Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker that he could perform it in his sleep, but instead of phoning it in, he produced one of the most hauntingly lovely outings of his career. Ĺ
Of Further Interest...
You Don't Know Me: The Songs of Cindy Walker is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box