Recordings: Kris Kristofferson – This Old Road

After 11 years it seems that the acting bug has released its grip on Kris Kristofferson, or at least let him go long enough to finally record another album.

This Old Road is a bittersweet and reflective record, made even more personal by the in-studio quality of the songs as well as the lack of instrumentation. The album is more politically oriented than many of Kristofferson’s previous works, as is evident in such tracks as “Wild American” and “The Burden of Freedom.” “In the News” is another critically piercing number, alluding to the tragedy of Laci Peterson and (like any good political basher) the “holy war” in Iraq.

But don’t accuse Kristofferson of not displaying a softer side. Songs such as “Thank You for a Life” capture appreciation and awe for all of his blessings, while “The Last Thing to Go” is a touching observation of old age, with its sweet conclusion that “love is the last thing to go.”

Kristofferson won’t win any “American Idol” contests for his unpolished, gravelly voice (made all the more coarse with age), but somehow, it’s appropriate for his skillfully poetic yet raw subject matter. Despite his lengthy hiatus from singing and songwriting, from the sound of This Old Road, it feels as if Kristofferson has never been away.

3.5/5 stars