Kris Kristofferson: Closer to the Bone

RIYL: Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings

Like his old buddy Johnny Cash before him, Kris Kristofferson’s autumn years are seeing a beautiful, stripped-back recording renaissance. Following up 2006’s This Old Road with that album’s producer, Don Was, Kris has delivered a dozen mostly drum-free tunes (the exceptions being “Let the Walls Come Down” and his cool tribute to Cash, “Good Morning John”) with the aid of acoustic guitar, harmonica, and not a heck of a lot else, giving the feel of a private living room performance. In fact, at the beginning of the song Kris wrote for his kids, “From Here to Forever,” you can hear his breaths so clearly, the effect is almost as if Kris is breathing right in your ear. While most of the record sticks close to family, friends, love and loss, the cherry on top of Closer to the Bone is “the first whole song” Kris ever wrote, at age 11, called “I Hate Your Ugly Face.” It’s every bit as funny as the title would suggest, and an eerily prescient indicator of all the greatness that was soon to come. (New West 2009)

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