Willie Nelson

Songbird (Lost Highway)

This doesn't sound like a Willie Nelson record, and it doesn't sound like a Ryan Adams record; dunno what it sounds like, to be honest, save for some show-offy mash-up that does less to pump up Shotgun Willie than shoot his legs out from under him. Not that pairing Nelson with Adams—as producer and performer and bandleader with his Cardinals—was a bad idea; far from it, as Nelson, who releases new product every time he buys a dime bag, has proven he's capable of exhaling a masterpiece out of unlikely collaborations (cf. Across the Borderline). And there are some essential moments: Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," and it's about time, and Nelson's own "Sad Songs and Waltzes" among the generous handful. But the fair-to-fine covers are more Adams' than Nelson's—gee, wonder who the Grateful Dead and Gram Parsons fan is in this partnership—and it shows, as Nelson gets tangled in Adams' electrified guitar strings on his way to the worst cover of "Amazing Grace" ever recorded by a guy who shoulda known better.

 
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