Willie Nelson - Spirit (Island Records) When the taxman went after Willie Nelson in the late 1980s he responded with one of his most convincing releases in years. The 'clearance sale' Who Will Buy My Memories from 1991 was available only through mail order and found Nelson with acoustic guitar and a straightforward frame of mind. Country and western's most likable outlaw seems to thrive with his back against the wall. His relationship with Columbia Records soured after a dry spell for much of the 80s and 90s - the low point being 1984's unconscionable To All the Girls I've Loved Before duet with Julio Iglesias. This is his first for reggae-rock label Island Records and he has come out fighting. Spirit hangs off three instrumentals revolving around a cycle of love lost and mortality. But the main attraction is Nelson's cultured growl and underrated finger-picking. There are moments of gospel, blues and even saloon-bar jazz, each carried off with authority and warmth. Island Records originally approached Nelson with a view to releasing a collection of reggae arrangements of his own compositions. That unlikely offering is due in September. Spirit fills the gap in style.