Merle Haggard 'Working in Tennessee' Vanguard

That he is still making albums of this quality is reason enough to enjoy this album but Merle Haggard is a legend who has remained truer to himself than many of his contemporaries. That he hasn't crossed over to a wider audience by recording songs written by names that they may be familiar with also says a lot about his attitude and aims. What I Hate is an uncompromising reflection on his views about what goes on around him showing that Haggard is still in touch with the world around him. He is also writing songs that reflect on his life and those close to him. Sometimes I Dream looks inward while Under The Bridge is about eternal hope. Too Much Boogie Woogie sees the writer hearing too much boogie woogie on the radio and not enough Hank Williams Sr, Ernest Tubb, Connie Smith, Marty Stuart, Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris. People like himself who rarely gain radio play in these times, a sentiment I think we can all agree with. The playing throughout is spot on with players like Reggie Young, David Hood, Rob Ickes and Scott Joss involved that's not unexpected. He also picks some well know songs to cover and while they might not  replace the originals are all given an satisfying Merle method-acting. There's Cocaine Blues and Jackson, the latter a duet with wife Theresa. She also co-writes several other songs and that's not the only family involvement with son Ben joining in on vocals and guitar and Jenessa Haggard also co-writing. Family means a lot to this man. He also appears, especially on Laugh It Off to be enjoying himself here. That's important here is man at ease with himself, his life and music and that comes across and counts for a lot.