Closer To The Bone
New West Records, 2009
REVIEW BY: David Bowling
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/11/2009
Kris Kristofferson was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, dated Janis Joplin and Barbara Streisand, married Rita Coolidge, formed friendships with some of country music’s elite, acted in close to fifty films and won a Golden Globe Award, but most importantly, he has been an American songwriter of the highest caliber for close to four decades.
During my college years in the early ‘70s, Kristofferson was one of my first introductions to country music. His seminal releases The Silver Tongued Devil And I, Border Lord, and Jesus Was A Capricorn consistently made their way onto my turntable while sharing shelf space with Hendrix, Cream, The Jefferson Airplane, and a bevy of other rock artists. Even in the midst of my college haze, I realized that he was creating songs of substance and clarity. These albums and a number of others that have appeared through the years have stood the test of time well.
Closer To The Bone, Kristofferon’s latest studio release, is similar in content and texture to 2006’s This Old Road. He is now seventy-three years old, and his music reflects his seven-plus decades of life.
He is still a grand poetic storyteller and a traditional country/folk artist. His voice and acoustic guitar are backed by keyboardist Rami Jaffee, guitarist/mandolin player Stephen Bruton, drummer Jim Keltner and bassist/producer Don Was.
Kristofferson wisely keeps it simple, putting the focus upon his lyrics. The songs explore the human condition and run the gamut from love to loss to tributes. “Good Morning John” is a fitting farewell to his old friend Johnny Cash, while “From Here To Forever” was written for his children. The title song and “Starlight and Stone” both look at life from the perspective of advancing age.
He composed ten of the tracks and co-wrote the eleventh; his ability to paint pictures with words and evoke an emotional response from the listener is still very much intact all these years later.
Kris Kristofferson has nothing left to prove. He has produced a quiet and contemplative album of authentic American music. Hopefully there will be more chapters in his continuing musical saga, but for now, Closer To The Bone is a worthy addition to his artistic legacy.