Willie Nelson

Songbird
(Lost Highway)

This doesn't sound like a Willie Nelson record, and it doesn't sound like a Ryan Adams record (though he produced it). We don't know 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, 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 Nelson's own "Sad Songs and Waltzes" are 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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