Country legend Willie Nelson was remarkably prolific in the first years of the 21st century, releasing numerous studio and concert albums, which featured intriguing stylistic departures (the reggae-tinged COUNTRYMAN) and a wide array of guest stars (the live OUTLAWS & ANGELS). On 2006's YOU DON'T KNOW ME, Nelson gets back to his roots with an amiable set of Western swing tunes all penned (at least in part) by underrated songwriter Cindy Walker, both an old friend of the famously mellow artist and a fellow Texan. Many of Walker's songs were first performed in the 1940s and '50s by the great Bob Wills, and Nelson stays true to that vintage vibe by including weepy pedal-steel lines and prominent background vocals. "Bubbles in My Beer" gently percolates with melancholy, while the lighthearted "Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age" is especially ideal for Nelson, as he was in his early seventies at the time of this record's release. Easily one of Willie's best post-millennium albums, YOU DON'T KNOW ME showcases both the charms of Walker's whimsical tunes and the evergreen talent of Nelson.
Rolling Stone (p.64) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[H]e's never better than when he's singing lonely-Texas-cowboy-songs, and on this album he draws from the best writer of those songs...the forgotten bug legendary Cindy Walker."
Rolling Stone (p.109) - Ranked #46 in Rolling Stone's "The Top 50 Albums Of 2006" -- "The outlaw-country king of Texas pays loving tribute to the state's songwriting queen."
Dirty Linen (p.47) - "[T]he beauty of this collection is that it's not just a nostalgic Western swing revisitation but a broader view of Walker's depth, versatility, and uncanny ability to strike hearts with poignancy and gut-wrenching emotion."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.99) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "This is gorgeous....It's a setting that provides Willie's world-weary warble with an ideal backdrop."