Album Reviews

Various Artists

Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings

Artist:     Various Artists

Album:     Outlaw: Celebrating the Music of Waylon Jennings

Label:     Sony/Legacy

Release Date:     4-7-2017


There was good reason why the late Waylon Jenning’s signature song was named “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean.” One of the pioneers of so-called outlaws of country music, Jennings was a tenacious and uncompromising artist who eschewed the commercial trappings of Nashville’s Music Row. He gathered an equally audacious cast of co-conspirators around him like pals Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson (with whom he played in the sometime supergroup The Highwaymen), while also influencing a new generation of rough-and-tumble alt-country rockers who followed in his wake. In so doing, he left a lasting impression on American music that remains vital 5 years after his passing.

Many of the individuals he influenced and inspired gathered earlier this year to pay him tribute with a concert celebration that revisits the classic songs Jennings made famous. Chris Stapleton taps into “Ain’t Living Long Like This” with the same edge and intensity Jennings gave the Rodney Crowell original. Bobby Bare brings a similar determination to “Only Daddy Who’ll Walk the Line.” Robert Earl Keen and Kris Kristofferson share Jennings’ grizzled attitude on “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” and “I Do Believe,” respectively. Nevertheless, Alison Krauss practically steals the show with her reading of “Dreaming My Dreams With You,” a song that ranks as one of the most tender moments of Jennings’ generally rugged repertoire.

An accompanying DVD captures the entire concert as it was broadcast on CMT, ]along with bonus songs and interviews with many of the pals and participants. Taken in tandem, it becomes an appropriate tribute to a man for whom the description of outlaw was always a badge of honor, worn with pride.

—Lee Zimmerman

Got something to say?