I Am What I Am

  • Record Label: Vanguard
  • Release Date: Apr 20, 2010
Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 14 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 14
  2. Negative: 0 out of 14
  1. Haggard began his career as a badass, but I Am is blessed with the humility and grace of a legend at peace with himself and the world around him.
  2. 90
    With Cash gone and Willie spent, hopes hang on Hag to deliver classic country, musically and poetically. And he doesn't disappoint.
  3. His good-old-days laments taste sweet where once they curdled.
  4. It's not so much that Merle Haggard has established himself as an American gem on his ambitious releases in the past decade; it's that we finally took notice.
  5. Having long since cracked the code for the perfect country song, Haggard expertly crafts a fresh batch of tunes that make you want to write one yourself.
  6. Like with any of Haggard's great albums, much of the pleasure lies in the details, whether it's the sly lyrical turns of phrase in his writing or in the suppleness of his performance, things I Am What I Am has in spades.
  7. On paper, a sentiment like that drips with bittersweet nostalgia, but not when Haggard is delivering it. There's a resilience in his voice.
  8. Uncut
    80
    These songs are full and rich, with longtime foil The Strangers creating honky-tonk, country shuffles and even Tin Pan Alley backdrops that often explode with life. [May 2010, p.98]
  9. It's the hard-boiled stuff that really brings a lump to the throat--when it's not cracking you up.
  10. Mojo
    80
    Haggard's now 73 and I Am What I Am is as good as anything he has ever done. [June 2010, p. 94]
  11. Considering it's been 45 years since his first album was released, and he's still writing songs and singing them in good form, there's something refreshing in the impression the album gives of being a personal statement, of Merle Haggard standing strong and saying, "This is what I do: writing songs about life."
  12. Haggard's writing occasionally lapses into anonymous honky-tonk hokum, and the playing sometimes feels cheap and dashed off. (Haggard's voice sounds much more weathered than Nelson's does, as well.) Yet because it's made up of originals, not covers, it's also more idiosyncratic.

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