Sound — 9
This album was a rarity among country music albums of the 90's. Instead of countless studio musicians, professional songwriters, and super-slick production, you will find here only Willie Nelson, his trusty guitar 'Trigger', his sister Bobbie and her piano, and appearances by Willie's longtime 2nd guitarist Jody Payne and Fiddle legend Johnny Gimble. No rhythm section, no rock n' roll. All songs are written by Willie, several are instrumentals, and all feature Willie's lead guitar playing. Style is traditional country with a strong latin and jazz influence, typical for Willie. He has a unique guitar style, influenced by jazz greats like Django Reinhardt, yet very melodic and vocal-like. His playing is as uniquely personal as his voice, both of which are given center stage here.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics are typical for the Country Music genre, themes of love, broken hearts and faith can get old really fast, but not when sung with the conviction that Willie Nelson delivers. As one of the greatest singer-songwriters of the 20th century, he is at what should be considered the peak of his legendary career on this album.
Overall Impression — 9
This album defines why Willie Nelson is a legendary artist, and how he does it without trying. It blows other country albums from that era out of the water, with the execption of Johnny Cash's 'American Recordings' which featured only Cash and his guitar. 'Spirit' however contains all new original music, 'American Recordings' does not. The songs are consistently good, the performance is inspired, and overall this album serves to illustrate why Willie Nelson has been a staple of American music for nearly half a century.