Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music Entertainment, will release That's Life--Willie Nelson's new studio album (and 15th for the label)--on Friday, February 26.
Honoring the enduring influence and inspiration of Frank Sinatra (whose 105th birthday would have been celebrated on December 12), That's Life continues Willie's longtime musical appreciation of Sinatra's artistry and repertoire, an exploration exemplified by 2018's My Way, which earned Willie the Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Solo Album.
Willie's second album of standards and classics made famous by Frank Sinatra, That's Life finds Nelson (who has penned a few standards himself including "Crazy," "Funny How Times Slips Away," "On The Road Again" and many more) inhabiting more of the most treasured songs in the Great American Songbook. Recorded in the spirit of the groundbreaking 1978 Stardust album (Willie is one of the first contemporary artists to "cover" the Great American Songbook), 2016's Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin (a Best Traditional Vocal Album Grammy Award winner) and 2018's My Way, That's Life pays fresh tribute to one of Willie's life-long musical heroes.
The album cover painting of Willie and his iconic guitar, Trigger, standing into the glow of a twilight streetlamp, evokes classic Sinatra album images like In The Wee Small Hours (whose title song is featured on That's Life). Other key tracks on Willie's new album include "I Won't Dance" (featuring Grammy and Juno Award winning vocalist Diana Krall) and "A Cottage For Sale" premiering HERE.
Produced by Buddy Cannon and Matt Rollings, That's Life was recorded at Capitol Studios in Hollywood--where Frank Sinatra, the first artist to record at the facility, created an unbroken string of album masterpieces from March 1956 to November 1961--with additional recording at Pedernales Studios in Austin, Texas.
Willie and Trigger deliver 11 new studio performances, coming alive in a musical landscape animated by lush string and vibrant horn arrangements on an album mixed by recording industry legend Al Schmitt (who's recorded and mixed more than 150 gold and platinum albums and won more Grammy Awards than any other engineer or mixer).
Two iconic avatars, each defining a sector of American pop culture, Frank Sinatra and Willie Nelson convey the range of romantic emotion--from the intoxication of love to the hangover of heartbreak--in songs and performances that connect directly to the listener.
Willie and Frank were close friends, musical colleagues and mutual admirers of each other's work throughout Sinatra's lifetime. In the 1980s, Sinatra opened for Willie at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas and the two of them appeared together in a public service announcement for NASA's Space Foundation.
"I learned a lot about phrasing listening to Frank," Willie said in an interview for AARP magazine (June/July 2018). "He didn't worry about behind the beat or in front of the beat, or whatever—he could sing it either way, and that's the feel you have to have."
That's the attitude Willie brings to That's Life with his sublime interpretations of Sinatra signature songs including "Nice Work If You Can Get It," "Just In Time," "Cottage For Sale," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "You Make Me Feel So Young," "I Won't Dance" (featuring Diana Krall), "That's Life," "Luck Be A Lady," "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning," "Learnin' The Blues" and "Lonesome Road."
Willie Nelson - That's Life
track listing (songwriters; Frank Sinatra version, date)
01. Nice Work If You Can Get It (Ira Gershwin & George Gershwin; Sinatra-Basie: An Historic Musical First, 1962)
02. Just In Time (Adolph Green, Jule Styne & Betty Comden; Come Dance With Me!, 1959)
03. A Cottage For Sale (Larry Conley & Willard Robison; No One Cares, 1959)
04. I've Got You Under My Skin (Cole Porter; Songs For Swingin' Lovers!, 1956)
05. You Make Me Feel So Young (Josef Myrow & Mack Gordon; Songs For Swingin' Lovers!, 1956)
06. I Won't Dance - featuring Diana Krall (Jerome Kerr, Oscar Hammerstein II, Otto Harbach, Jimmy McHugh & Dorothy Fields; A Swingin' Affair!, 1957)
07. That's Life (Dean Kay & Kelly Gordon, That's Life, 1966)
08. Luck Be A Lady (Frank Loesser; My Kind Of Broadway, 1965)
09. In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning (David Mann & Bob Hilliard; In The Wee Small Hours, 1955)
10. Learnin' The Blues (Dolores Vicki Silvers; Session with Sinatra EP, single, 1955)
11. Lonesome Road (Nathaniel Shilkret & Gene Austin; A Swingin' Affair!, 1957)
Produced by Buddy Cannon & Matt Rollings
Recorded at Capitol Studios; Hollywood, CA
Additional Recording at Pedernales Studios; Austin, TX – Dan Rudin Recording, Blackbird Studios, The Practice Room; Nashville, TN – Armoury Studios; Vancouver, BC Canada
Mixed by Al Schmitt & Niko Bolas at Capitol Studios; Hollywood, CA
Willie Nelson – Trigger
Matt Rollings – piano, B-3 organ, vibraphone, hand claps
Dean Parks – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, hand claps
David Piltch – bass, hand claps
Jay Bellerose – drums, tambourine, hand claps
Mickey Raphael – harmonica
Paul Franklin – steel guitar
Chris McDonald – trombone
Jeff Coffin – tenor saxophone
Mark Douthit – alto saxophone
Barry Green – trombone
Mike Haynes – trumpet
Doug Moffet – baritone saxophone
Steve Patrick – trumpet, piccolo trumpet
Matt Forbes – hand claps
Ed Cherney – hand claps
Buddy Cannon – hand claps
Strings: Kristin Wilkinson, David Angell, Monisa Angell, Carrie Bailey, Kevin Bate, David Davidson, Conni Ellisor, Cornelia Heard, Alison Hoffman, Paul Nelson, Sari Reist, Karen Winkelmann
Strings orchestrated by Kristin Wilkinson
Horns orchestrated by Chris McDonald