Album: The Willie Nelson Family
Label: Legacy Recordings/Sony
Release date: November 19, 2021
The Willie Nelson Family, Willie Nelson's new upcoming studio album, will be out Nov. 19 on Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment.
"Family Bible," the first single from "The Willie Nelson Family" album, will be released Thursday, of this week. One of Nelson's earliest compositions, "Family Bible" was penned in 1957, inspired by scenes of his grandmother singing "Rock of Ages" and reading from the Bible after supper. A struggling young songwriter moving to Houston, Nelson sold the song to Paul Buskirk, who enlisted singer Claude Gray to record Nelson's original songs (including "Family Bible" and "Night Life"). Gray's single version of "Family Bible" was released in February 1960 and reached number seven on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart.
The single's success enabled Nelson to move to Nashville, where he established his reputation as a songwriter. He recorded his own version of "Family Bible" for the first time on his 1971 album, "Yesterday's Wine," and has featured the song as a staple in his live performances. This is a new studio recording.
Shaped around a setlist of 12 spirit-driven songs from the Nelson Family repertoire, the release draws on Americana (including A.P. Carter's "Keep It On The Sunnyside" and the traditional hymn "In The Garden") plus classic songwriting from Hank Williams ("I Saw The Light") and Kris Kristofferson ("Why Me") to George Harrison ("All Things Must Pass").
Produced by Nelson and Steve Chadie, "The Willie Nelson Family" was recorded and mixed by Chadie at Pedernales Studios in Austin.
Musicians are Nelson (lead vocals, background vocals, guitar); Bobbie Nelson (piano); Lukas Nelson (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, lead vocals, background vocals); Micah Nelson (drums, bass, background vocals); Paula Nelson (background vocals); Amy Nelson (background vocals); Mickey Raphael (harmonica); Billy English (drums); Paul English (percussion) and Kevin Smith (bass).
Willie's son, Lukas, (who fronts his own band, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real) sings lead vocals on two tracks -"All Things Must Pass" and "Keep It On The Sunnyside" - while sharing lead vocals with his father on "I Saw the Light," "I Thought About You, Lord" and "Why Me."
Four of the performances on The Willie Nelson Family - "Heaven and Hell," "Kneel at the Feet of Jesus," "Laying My Burdens Down" and "Family Bible" - are among the last recordings Nelson made with his longtime drummer and friend Paul English. They first played together in Fort Worth in 1955; English became Nelson's regular drummer in 1966 and was a key member of the Family until he passed away, at age 87, on Feb. 11, 2020.
"The Willie Nelson Family" is the third new Nelson studio album to be released on Legacy since July 2020. "First Rose of Spring," released July 3, 2020, entered the Billboard Top Country Albums chart at number five, making Nelson the first artist to score a Top 10 album in every decade - seven overall - since Billboard launched its Top Country Albums chart in January 1964; "First Rose of Spring" is Nelson's 53rd Top 10 album. Nelson's second collection of standards from the Frank Sinatra repertoire, "That's Life," released Feb. 26, debuted in first on both Billboard's Jazz Albums chart and the Traditional Jazz Albums chart.
The track list for the upcoming release is:
1. Heaven and Hell (Willie Nelson)
2. Kneel at the Feet of Jesus (Willie Nelson)
3. Laying My Burdens Down (Willie Nelson)
4. Family Bible (Claude Gray, Paul Buskirk and Walt Breeland)
5. In the Garden (traditional)
6. All Things Must Pass (George Harrison)
7. I Saw the Light (Hank Williams, Sr.)
8. In God's Eyes (Willie Nelson)
9. Keep It On the Sunnyside (A.P. Carter)
10. I Thought About You, Lord (Willie Nelson)
11. Too Sick To Pray (Willie Nelson)
12. Why Me (Kris Kristofferson)