Anti – 2000 – 35 minutes

Having survived dodgy albums, label wrangles and bankruptcy, 63-year-old Merle Haggard has returned with his strongest body of work in over a decade. Recorded in his home studio in California, 'If I Could Only Fly' is beautiful autumnal wisdom – Haggard leafing through the scrapbook of his life with eyes wide open. He explores his days as a runaway ('Thanks To Uncle John'), his time in jail ('I'm Still Your Daddy) and his happiness as a family man ('Leavin's Getting Harder'), gentle country combining with folk, blues and Latin touches. Like Johnny Cash's recent 'American III' album (which he also appeared on), Haggard sounds and sings at peace with himself and his world, his glow enough to comfort any soul. 'When you need someone to turn to, turn to me,' he soothes. You wouldn't have it any other way.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Wishing All These Old Things Were New – Honky Tonk Mama – Turn To Me – If I Could Only Fly – Crazy Moon – Bareback – (Think About A) Lullaby – I'm Still Your Daddy – Proud To Be Your Old Man – Leavin's Getting Harder – Thanks To Uncle John – Listening (To The Wind)