Willie Nelson’s willingness to record anything with anyone at any time can yield stunning results, most notably his recent Last Of The Breed collaboration with Merle Haggard and Ray Price, and similar team efforts with peers. Results on other occasions have been less impressive, among them the awful, Rob Thomas-produced duet album The Great Divide and the execrable duet with truck shill Toby Keith on “Beer For My Horses”.
Despite a few good moments, Moment Of Forever falls into the latter category. It teams Nelson with two co-producers: Nashville megastar Kenny Chesney and Chesney’s producer Buddy Cannon. There’s no denying the catchy commerciality of Chesney’s music, but Cannon, a Music Row veteran, is renowned less for studio artistry and more for his skills in grinding out mediocre fluff for mainstream country radio.
Problems begin on the first track, as Chesney/Cannon overload “Gotta Get Over You” with pointless, bombastic overproduction. Dave Matthews’ “Gravedigger”, while replete with wonderfully dark lyrics, is so ill-suited to Nelson’s distinct vocal style that its impact fizzles. To me, the entire Big & Rich/Muzikmafia gimmick turned stale some time ago, so it’s difficult to see any logic in Nelson wasting time on Big Kenny’s insufferably stupid “Bob Song”. Chesney draws on his love of rehashed Jimmy Buffettisms on “I’m Alive”, leaving the arrangement replete with silly, faux-tropical affectations. Nor can Nelson bring anything new to Randy Newman’s “Louisiana”, Paul Craft’s overdone “Keep Me From Blowing Away”, or Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody”.
Only three selections feel natural and unforced: the smart rendition of Kris Kristofferson’s title track, Nelson’s own “You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore”, and his amiably loose duet with Chesney on Guy Clark’s honky-tonker “Worry B. Gone”. Certainly, Willie’s reputation can survive such a dud. Let’s just hope next time, he avoids teaming with Rascal Flatts.