MERLE HAGGARD returns on April 20 with his new CD I AM WHAT I AM, his first disc for Vanguard Records, and an inspired effort from a rejuvenated legend. Co-produced by MERLE with longtime cohort Lou Bradley, the disc features 12 songs including the candid title track, with typically stellar playing from MERLE’s band the Strangers.

MERLE turns inward on his new disc, and the result isn’t some great claim to Truth, but a concession to the album title’s simple truth. If the songs here are occasionally tinged with regret, I AM WHAT I AM is no place for apologies — indeed, the tone of these tracks is celebratory as often as not, the reflection of a man profoundly comfortable in his weathered skin.

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