For fans of classic country music, this spring and summer will bring an abundance of new releases from beloved singers. Five members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, including Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn, will separately release albums. Another Hall of Famer, Don Williams, will be feted with a tribute set starring contemporary country talents.
Willie’s new project, “God’s Problem Child” (due April 28), arrives at retail just one day before the singer’s 84th birthday, and includes a humorous tune called “Still Not Dead,” inspired by false internet reports of his demise.
Willie gets a kick out of such rumors, telling fans at a recent Sirius XM satellite radio event attended by Rare Country that, as a result of them, “People are always so glad to see me.” The song pokes fun at the fake reports with lyrics like, “Don’t bury me, I’ve got a show to play” and “Last night I had a dream that I died twice yesterday.” Willie, who still plays more than 100 shows a year, also referenced his touring schedule in the lyrics, saying his pace on the road would “kill a normal man.”
The album’s closing track, “He Won’t Ever be Gone,” pays tribute to Willie’s close friend (and fellow Country Music Hall of Famer) Merle Haggard, who passed away in 2016. It includes Merle’s son, Ben, on guitar.
The prolific Willie is far from finished. During the Sirius XM event, he revealed that he has another album already completed, this one recorded with his musician sons — Lucas and Micah.
Also in the pipeline:
- A member of the Statler Brothers steps out on a solo effort with “Jimmy Fortune Sings The Classics,” released on April 21. The set features collaborations with Jimmy’s longtime friends Ricky Skaggs and the Isaacs. Jimmy says the 14 tracks he chose to lend his tenor to are all “songs that shaped my life.” They include “Make the World Go Away,” “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “Unchained Melody,” as well as the Statlers’ classic “Flowers on the Wall.”
- While Don Williams retired from touring last year, he continues to inspire new generations of performers, including the all-star list of artists who contributed tracks to the tribute album “Gentle Giants: The Songs of Don Williams” (May 26). Among them: Garth Brooks, Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum, Alison Krauss and Trisha Yearwood.
- “Things Change” (May 26) is Bobby Bare’s first studio album in five years. It includes a collaboration with Chris Stapleton on Bobby’s 1963 hit “Detroit City.”
- Billed as his final studio album, Glen Campbell’s “Adiós” (June 9) was recorded in Nashville in 2012 after the close of his “Goodbye Tour.” Glen revealed an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis in 2011 and has been in declining health ever since. Willie Nelson duets with Glen on a re-make of Willie’s “Funny How Time Slips Away,” and Vince Gill lends harmony vocals on a new version of Roger Miller’s “Am I Alone (Or Is It Only Me).”
- Loretta Lynn’s Aug. 18 album, “Wouldn’t It Be Great,” is comprised entirely of songs written or co-written by the 85-year-old legend and is being called “deeply personal.” It includes a mix of new songs and some re-recorded tracks from her vast catalog, including classics “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind).” The set was recorded at a cabin once owned by Johnny Cash in Tennessee, and co-produced by Cash’s son, John Carter Cash, and Lynn’s daughter, Patsy Lynn Russell.