MERLE HAGGARD The Peer Sessions (Audium) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
To mark the 75th anniversary of the original Bristol Sessions -- Ralph S. Peer's field recordings of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family that became the blueprint for country music -- Merle Haggard interprets a selection of his favourite tunes from the Peermusic publishing archive. Without the slightest concern for radio play or consumer demographics, Haggard methodically pieced the album together song by song at his home studio over the last six years, digging into timeless classics by Rodgers, Jimmie Davis and Floyd Tillman and Tommy Duncan when the feeling was right. You can hear the delight in his voice each time he announces an Owen Bradley piano solo, and it sounds like he's floating while dueting with the 98-year-old Davis. Sweet.