Kristofferson’s second album was a more personal work than his debut, which functioned as a respectful nose-thumb to Nashville traditions, both musical and cultural, taking aspects of each and bringing them, picking and grinning, into the counter-culture. There is a touch of political commentary, more implied than overt; and some sharp social observation. They are viewed, though, through a more internal perspective.
If there is nothing here with the twisted "gotcha" of "The Law is For Protection of the People", or the road worn zeitgeist of "Me and Bobby McGee", the payoffs are far
more deeply felt than distantly admired. There are few songs as wistful and evocative as "Loving Her Was Easier Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again" or "When I Loved Her". We all feel a touch of "The
Pilgrim" or "The Silver Tongued Devil" inside. And we all know that we may be a little too close to "The Taker" than we'd like to think.
There are few writers of such easy brilliance, and maybe none as honest. Each song flows, which is amazing, given the sheer number of dazzling refrains and lines that would stand as a centerpiece in songs of lesser writers. And they are delivered with perfect tone and color, understated and living in that moment and emotion.
Oh, yeah...the voice. It's limited, to be sure. But his warm and even croaky voice is perfect for delivering the message, forgoing histrionics or smooth crooning in order to better convey the message. He sounds like the guy at the bar drowning his pain in Jack Daniels and Winstons. Even such a simple refrain as "It made me want to smile/when I loved her" rings true and resonant, because it's obviously not being gussied up.
Thinking man's barstool music.
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