Haggard's newest CD in five years is a refreshing
acoustic affair with a touch of pedal steel and some
electric pickin'. I had to fight to get a finished
copy, but it was well worth the fight. Haggard is a
smart man sticking with what is tried and true. His
band, The Strangers, accompany him in his studio,
the California "Shade Tree Manor Studio". Reggie
Young helps out on guitar, with Rob Ickes on Dobro.
Every song is Hag written except for one. Some of
the songs have a swing/jazz feel to them. The whole
vibe of the album is very informal. Haggard sounds
refreshed in this take. Reggie Young's twangy guitar
adds a lot to the mix. In fact the CD is full of
great guitar including Haggard. Haggard's wife
Theresa writes a very inspired piece in the small insert,
plus adding some sweet vocals on the CD. "Live and
Love Always" features husband and wife singing
together, while Merle talks in the background.
What makes an album great, for me it's great musicians mostly,
and that is exactly what we have here. Whether it's Haggard's
great vocals or Ickes' Dobro in the background, this
is a great album. You won't find a better recording,
unless this was put in the SACD format. This is
available on CD or vinyl. If you download stuff, you
can get it that way too. I just love "How
did you Find me Here?", a great bluesy sounding song.
Haggard has a great way of putting hooks in his
songs and as a producer, he knows where to emphasize
what, He really sounds like he is having fun. By the
Way, Merle is on a new label, and I Am What I Am is his first
record for Vanguard Records.
In closing, this is a great find in today's market,
a real icon, playing iconic music. He still has it.
I love the artwork, just a simple picture of "The Hag"
with his hat. OK, drum roll, my two favorite songs
are; the first song, "I've Seen It All Go Away", and
the last song which is the title track "I Am What I
Am". The opener is a brilliant song about Hag's
experience with life, a bit political, about
his experience, just a great song. He really gets
into it. Sometimes, he sounds a bit like The man in
Black. Who better to do it, but Merle Haggard.
Enjoy, it turned out to be well worth the wait!
Click the cover to order your copy right now!