To Willie


Generally favorable reviews - based on 21 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 21
  2. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Filter
    Rather than coming across as note-for-note recreations, each song takes on a new, softer life with Houck's delicate vocals. [Winter 2009, p.98]
  2. The Alabama-born Houck knows his way around this music well enough to walk the fine line between respect and reverence as he delivers impassioned readings of 'Can I Sleep In Your Arms' and 'Too Sick To Pray' and kicks out a freewheeling rip through 'I Gotta Get Drunk' with the appropriate tinge of self-loathing.
  3. 80
    It’s earthy and it’s eloquent--no doubt Willie will approve.
  4. To Willie is more than a curatorial feat; Phosphorescent reaches down to the pain.
  5. Matthew Houck, better known as the voice of Phosphorescent, has given Willie Nelson (and the rest of us) a gorgeous, shimmering gift in To Willie.
  6. Mojo
    This has more than enough beauty and character to stand on its own. [Mar 2009, p.107]
  7. Under The Radar
    This is a gripping, understated, and deeply soulful take on Nelson's music. [Winter 2009, p.74]
  8. Timeless and universal, everyone can identify with Willie Nelson's songs, as sung by Houck, as Phosphorescent's tales of heartbreak, wasted youth, and harsh introspection.
  9. Q Magazine
    Houck's trip through Nelson's 60-plus albums shows such love and attention the great man himself could only approve of such hangover gems as 'I Gotta Get Drunk.' [Mar 2009, p.101]
  10. Graceful, honest, and wringing every understated ounce of emotion from the tunes.
  11. Houck's impressive effort nonetheless inevitably sends you back to Nelson's originals, only illuminating their brilliance.
  12. To Willie could have a lost ballad and a roadhouse jam for variety's sake, but Houck's thoughtful curating makes it more than a fans-only stopgap.
  13. To Willie isn’t a particularly dynamic record--even 'I Gotta Get Drunk' sounds sensitive--but Houck has succeeded in communicating his own musical vision through Nelson’s songs, an achievement to which Nelson himself would no doubt raise a glass.
  14. The whole is still a game enough effort, if nothing else showing Houck's excellent taste in song choices.
  15. From beginning to end, Houck's voice crackles with soul, and his down-home arrangements are soothing and familiar without seeming cliché. That being said, there is nothing particularly innovative about the album.
  16. Houck’s talents are prevalent in everything he plays, and his enthusiasm for Willie’s material comes through with each passing listen.
  17. To Willie seems more like a personal effort than a proper follow-up to "Pride," and it’s not as inventive as that album. It works well as a covers collection.
  18. Houck's voice knows exactly when to crack, and when the material's as great as this, that's the only embellishment you need.
  19. It’s stirring, tragic fare that demonstrates why For Willie is a good introduction for those new to Nelson and Houck alike.
  20. The fact that the album works may speak most to the strength of Nelson's original material, but To Willie certainly has a creaky, good-natured charm, is light on frills, and puts a clear focus on the songwriting.
  21. 40
    When Phosphorescent's Matthew Houck and his band pay homage to Nelson, it feels like a greenhorn hitching on to the pothead patron saint's biodiesel wagon as a credibility grab.

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