Willie Nelson has back-to-back awards from the last two Grammys, and the always prolific artist will be going for a third with his 70th studio album, “First Rose of Spring,” just announced for an April 24 release.
The album will come out just five days shy of Nelson’s 87th birthday, April 29.
Nelson and his co-producer Buddy Cannon only penned two new songs for this one, versus the five they wrote for last year’s “Ride Me Back Home.” That leaves room for an even greater abundance of outside material, including a previously unheard Chris Stapleton solo composition, “Our Song.” Mutual fans may hope it gets played when Nelson joins Stapleton’s “All American Roadshow” tour for two dates this summer (Arlington, Texas on March 14 and Lexington, Kentucky on April 25).
Nelson is digging further back for material as well, of course. The album closes with “Yesterday When I Was Young (Hier Encore),” co-written and originally performed in the early ’60s by Charles Aznavour. With this, Nelson builds a bridge back to the album before last, 2018’s “My Way,” an album of standards.
The most familiar song to veteran outlaw country fans will be “I’m The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised,” a hit for Johnny Paycheck in 1977. “Just Bummin’ Around” is another venerable track, previously recorded by Dean Martin and Jimmy Dean. Billy Joe Shaver’s “We are the Cowboys” goes back to 1981.
On the fresher side, Nelson’s friend and sometimes duet partner Toby Keith wrote “Don’t Let the Old Man In,” a Clint Eastwood-inspired song Keith released in 2018. Contemporary country songwriters like Randy Houser and Casey Beathard are represented in new songs like the title track and “Stealing Home.”
A lyric video for the title song, penned by Allen Shamblin (“The House That Built Me”), Mark Beeson and Houser, was released concurrent with the album announcement.
Nelson has not been a red-headed stranger to the recording studio in recent years. Since signing with Sony Legacy in 2012, this is his 14th release.
Nelson’s 2018 release “My Way” won the Grammy for best traditional pop album, and 2019’s “Ride Me Back Home,” a more eclectic assortment of originals and covers akin to the forthcoming album, got Nelson the Grammy for best country solo performance for the title track.