Personnel: Kris Kristofferson (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Stephen Bruton (guitar, mandolin, background vocals); Rami Jaffee (keyboards); Jim Keltner (drums).
Photographer: Jim Marshall .
On CLOSER TO THE BONE, Kris Kristofferson avoids the production mishaps of 2006's THIS OLD ROAD, though he works with the same team: producer Don Was (who also played bass), drummer Jim Keltner, Rami Jaffee on keyboards, and guitarist Stephen Bruton, who passed away shortly after finishing this album. CLOSER TO THE BONE's 11 songs are simply jaw-dropping for the most part: some pay tribute to friends; others give props to loss, grief, pleasure, and pain; and they all offer gratitude for the experiences. The sound of the record is close, intimate, and immediate but less shambolic than THIS OLD ROAD. That's not to say it sounds falsely polished. It's an exceptionally intimate recording filled with songs that are always direct and sometimes uncomfortable. The melodies are as simple and classic as they've always been, but lyrically, the man is on a tear. If Kristofferson never cuts another record, CLOSER TO THE BONE will have been a proud note to end his musical career on.
Rolling Stone (p.70) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he scale is intimate -- confessions and metaphysical ruminations, delivered in a weathered rumble, punctuated by the sound of harmonica nd fingers scraping on fretboards."
Billboard (p.56) - "With CLOSER TO THE BONE Kristofferson digs deep into his long and troubled past to bring listeners one of his most beautiful moments."
Q (Magazine) (p.109) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "CLOSER TO THE BONE is more personal, the septuagenarian singing what sound like farewell letters to friends and family over the slightest acoustic accompaniment."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.88) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "KRISTOFFERSON once again elevates the form with the clarity and discipline of a true poet."
Uncut (magazine) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "These are gently rugged country-folk songs made all the more authentic by a chewy voice that, with age, now seems to have deepened its resolve."