Willie Nelson – Last Man Standing album review: Country star still going strong

Nelson proves he is still one of the genre’s greatest songwriters and singers

Last Man Standing
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Artist: Willie Nelson
Genre: Country
Label: Legacy

Whatever about Dylan Thomas's dad, Willie Nelson has no intention of going gently into that good night. If anything expect a rueful remark as on the opening track on this latest spirited instalment of the late late Willie show: "I don't want to be the last man standing/ On second thoughts maybe I do . . ." (Last Man Standing).

Nelson, a man for all of Nashville's seasons, is one of country's greatest songwriters and singers. Now touching 85, he remains spiky and productive (overly so in the past); this album follows last year's excellent God's Problem's Child in which the spectre of his death loomed large. It hasn't gone away. Bad Breath – "Bad breath is better than no breath at all" – and Heaven Is Closed – "so I think I'll stay where I am" – address the obvious with tongue firmly in cheek and band in top form.

Me and You speaks to the politically unspeakable but the song that strikes deepest is the break-up ballad, Something You Get Through. Willie's iconoclastic individualistic liberal self bends to the heart and the toll it demands. I Ain't Got Nuthin' is less sensitive but no less memorable: "I gave you a ring and you gave me the finger".