On "Roots, Volume 1," the follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut for punk-rock imprint Epitaph Records, Merle Haggard pays homage to classic '50s country crooners Lefty Frizzell, Hank Williams and Hank Thompson. Enlisting the help of Lefty's original guitarist as well as old friends from his former backing band, The Strangers, Hag reinterprets these cuts in the slow, sauntering style that has made him famous. But the songs of "Roots" are as much a testament to his own troubled life as they are a tribute to the legends that influenced his own writings.
The three Haggard originals ("More Than My Old Guitar," "Runaway Mama" and "I've Got a Tender Heart") hearken back to an earlier, simpler time. On "More Than My Old Guitar," you can hear echoes of Williams' lonesome warble in Haggard's soulful, straightforward delivery -- especially as he sings, "I love my old guitar like God loves poor, but I love you even more."