How many artists do you know that you’re “supposed to know,” but you don’t really know them at all? Did that question make any sense?
My knowledge of Leon Russell is very limited: I know that he is greatly respected in the music world; I know he has worked with some of the greatest musicians to walk the Earth; I know that my uncle tells a story about sleeping with his wife one time. So, I figure that an album with a guy I am supposed to know, but don’t, along with a guy that I really enjoy, Willie, is an easy introduction.
This record is split into two parts. The first half is a collection of classic songs that have been given a Western Swing spin. It is finger-snapping and toe-tapping music with saloon-style piano riffs, simple electric guitar picking, and subdued drum beats. The beginning of One For The Road is upbeat and light-hearted and, at times, almost spiritual.
Willie and Leon’s voices compliment each other remarkably well. They both sing in a higher register with a twang but never whining.
The other half of this double LP is down, slow, sad, and great. The second half of One For The Road features Willie’s vocals accompanied by Leon’s instrumentation and the songs feel as if they belong in a 1940s Hollywood musical and not on a record from 1979. This half of One For The Road feels like a bigger production. It has a lot of soul and power in slow and deliberate music.
My favorite track: Heartbreak Hotel