This is Willie Nelson’s 70th solo studio album, a staggering tally over a 58-year recording career. But Nelson, now 87, has no illusions about his longevity, as at least half the songs on First Rose of Spring attest. “If I beat you to the end, I’ve had a big head start it’s true,” he sings on Blue Star, one of only two songs on the album he had a hand in writing (both with producer Buddy Cannon). The line alludes to Nelson’s three-decade marriage to fourth wife Annie D’Angelo, 24 years his junior. It’s typical of the wry humour and contented air of resignation that enshrouds this 11-track collection, played and written by the cream of Nashville’s music mafia. Don’t Let the Old
Man In, a song by longtime Nelson collaborator Toby Keith, pulls down the shutters on death itself, while Nelson closes the album with his unique take on Charles Aznavour’s
Yesterday When I was Young, tongue firmly in cheek.