It's fitting that Chris and Morgane Stapleton open this homage to Waylon Jennings – they're a spiritual echo of Jennings and Jessi Colter, the duke and duchess of Seventies outlaw country, and emblematic of how the movement shaped generations of acts who chafe at Nashville conservatism but refuse to be marginalized. Recorded live in July 2015, this concert LP gathers Jennings' family and friends with all-star acolytes for the rarest of things: a tribute album that almost never flags, with performances that approach or match the originals.
Jennings was both interpreter and writer, and when heclaimed a song, he owned it. But the gender flips here are illuminating: KaceyMusgraves teases the pathos from "The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don't Want to GetOver You)," from Waylon & Willie; Alison Krauss reprises herheavenly cover of "Dreaming My Dreams With You." Jennings' runningbuddies shine, among them Bobby Bare, Willie Nelson, of course, and KrisKristofferson, whose ravaged "I Do Believe" – Jennings' masterpiecefrom their Highwaymen days – is a tear-jerker. That said, the set's highlightis "Freedom to Stay" by Jamey Johnson, perhaps the Waylon-est of theman's heirs (dude, where's that new album?). Slowing the tempo to a crawl, he pondersthe song's contradictions in his stentorian, Jennings-like baritone, laying outthe highly personal good-vs.-bad cage match that defines the soul of the bestcountry music, and of Jennings' in particular.
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