Entertainment Weekly - p.126
"[T]he main draw is several newly penned tunes from country's greatest songwriter..."
Uncut - p.944 stars out of 5
-- "[The album] finds the chiselled country vet extending his string of good-to-great efforts this decade. Faith, populism, and the blues inform this one."
Dirty Linen - p.80
"THE BLUEGRASS SESSIONS finds him right at home in his collaboration with bluegrass royalty....The album includes heartfelt, bluesy covers of some of Hag's big hits..."
No Depression - p.93
"The results rank with his best, whether he's reviving 'Mama's Hungry Eyes' and 'big City', introducing 'Pray and 'What Happened?', or paying tribute to Jimmie Rogers and the Delmore Brothers."
Personnel: Carl Jackson (tenor, guitar, background vocals); Alison Krauss (baritone); Rob Ickes (resonator guitar); Charlie Cushman (banjo); Marty Stuart (mandolin); Scott Joss, Aubrey Haynie (fiddle); Colonel J.D. Wilkes (harmonica); Ben Isaacs (upright bass).
It should not be assumed from the album title that THE BLUEGRASS SESSIONS finds honky-tonk hero Merle Haggard making like a modern-day Bill Monroe. His actual style alters little here, as he winds his way through new versions of some of his classic tunes ("Mama's Hungry Eyes," "Big City," etc.) and reinterprets material by his own heroes (the Delmore Brothers, Jimmie Rodgers). The "bluegrass" comes largely from the fact that he's joined here by such notables as Alison Krauss and fiddler nonpareil Aubrey Haynie, who frame the songs with pickin'-and-sawin', all-acoustic arrangements that re-contextualize the tunes, moving them handily from the honky tonk to the back porch. Hardline purists of both the Hag and bluegrass camps might be taken aback, but any country fan with ears will recognize the rightness of the end result.