Willie Nelson never ceases to amaze. His discography reads longer than most artists’ biography, and even as 2021 draws to a close, the Red-Headed Stranger is still putting out new music. This time, it’s a family affair, with the album The Willie Nelson Family on Legacy Recordings. The collection features old songs that helped build the Nelson family, from old religious standbys to Carter Family classics and even Kris Kristofferson’s “Why Me.” For his 72nd studio album, Nelson is joined by his sister Bobbie on piano, as well as four of his children: Lukas Nelson (acoustic guitar, lead vocals, background vocals), Micah Nelson (bass, drums, background vocals), Paula Nelson (background vocals), and Amy Nelson (background vocals). And it wouldn’t be a Willie record without Mickey Raphael (harmonica).
One of the new album’s most recognizable selections is “I Saw the Light,” which Hank Williams started writing in 1947 and then recorded a year later. Considered a standard of the country music canon, it’s made frequent appearances in Nelson’s set list for decades now. By the way, The Willie Nelson Family is the country legend’s second release of 2021, following That’s Life, an album of Sinatra classics. He’s also the author of a children’s book (written with Bobbie Nelson) titled Sister, Brother, Family: An American Childhood in Music. Catching us up on everything, Nelson participated in a virtual visit with NBC’s Today Show. Asked by host Jenna Bush about which musicians he loves that might surprise people, Nelson quickly replied, “I like everything from bluegrass to classical music, you name it.”