Rolling Stone - 12/26/96, p.198
"...low-key, acoustic, stripped to the rugged fundamentals of a good song and a superior voice....Nelson's singing...remains a heavy wonder in itself, and the exquisite fiddling of old Bob Wills sidekick Johnny Gimble is always something to behold..."
Q - 8/96, p.1244 Stars (out of 5)
- "...he offers a handful of originals which reach back to the cantinas and missions of rural Texas and an older, pre-Nashville tradition. The straightness of the delivery suits the directness of the material..."
Personnel: Willie Nelson (vocals, guitar); Jody Payne (guitar, background vocals); Johnny Gimble (fiddle); Bobbie Nelson (piano).
Recorded at Pedernales Recording, Austin, Texas.
Personnel: Willie Nelson (vocals, guitar); Johnny Gimble (fiddle); Bobbie Nelson (piano).
Audio Mixer: Joe Gracey.
Recording information: Pedernales Recording, Austin, TX (11/04/1995).
Illustrator: Dave Zettner.
Photographer: Chris Buck.
On his debut for Island Records, Willie Nelson returns to the song-cycle concept that served him well two decades earlier on RED HEADED STRANGER and PHASES AND STAGES. At age 63, Nelson uses the stripped-down, drumless SPIRIT to look back at his relationships with God and with women. "Matador," a beautiful, flamenco-flavored instrumental, begins and ends the record. In between, the Red Headed Stranger reminisces about all the good things the Creator has done ("I Thought About You, Lord"), and makes his peace in a direct conversation ("Too Sick To Pray"). Nelson's limber acoustic guitar resonates throughout, while sister Bobbie's distinctive piano playing is at the center of tales of lost love ("She Is Gone," "I'm Waiting Forever"). And Bobbie rambles alongside the joyous noise of long-time Nelson fiddler Johnny Gimble in another instrumental, "Spirit Of E9," a Tex-Mex-flavored waltz.