- Personnel: Kris Kristofferson (vocals, guitar, harmonica); Kris Kristofferson; Stephen Burton (guitar, mandolin, background vocals); Don Was (piano, acoustic bass, upright bass); Jim Keltner (drums).
- Audio Mixer: Krish Sharma.
- Recording information: Studio 9, Western Recorders, Hollywood, CA.
- Photographer: Mary Ellen Mark.
- Though Kris Kristofferson blazed important trails in songwriting history early in his career (who else do you know who's been covered by Janis Joplin, Johnny Cash, and Al Green?), his latter-day creative endeavors leaned more toward acting than songwriting. His first studio album of the 21st century, THIS OLD ROAD, was also his first batch of new songs in 11 years. Veteran producer Don Was tries to do for Kristofferson what Rick Rubin did for Kris's buddy Johnny Cash in the '90s, presenting his rough-hewn voice in an appropriately raw acoustic setting. For a lesser songwriter, this gambit might have fallen flat, but Kristofferson's material is as strong and sharp here as anything he'd done in decades. He's as feisty as ever, name-checking the iconoclastic likes of Steve Earle and John Trudell, and voicing his anti-war sentiments without ever resorting to pedantry. Ultimately, his leathery, lived-in voice meshes perfectly with the unassuming production to frame a set of songs that's simultaneously personal and universal--one of the toughest tricks in songwriting, and one of the most rewarding when it works. On THIS OLD ROAD it works big-time.
Rolling Stone (p.88) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "With a voice like bubbling tar paper and a heart full of thanks for his blessed life, Kristofferson taps into a timeless trove of country-blues melodies."
Uncut (p.110) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Kristofferson's comeback is a quietly gorgeous affair. His voice mostly a low rumble over picked guitar, the man who united the long-hair rock crowd with Nashville's early-'80s outlaws is in a reflective mood."
Dirty Linen (p.92) - "[With] hauntingly sparse arrangements that spotlight his husky-voiced lyrics..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.90) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "The substance is in the words he's singing. The conviction is in his honesty....It's a good album, whose songs are a mix of political and personal and whose mood is equal parts nostalgia and bravado..."