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). Dunno what it sounds like, to be honest, save for some ostentatious mashup 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: Nelson, who releases new product every time he buys a dime bag, has proved he's capable of exhaling a masterpiece out of unlikely collaborations (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's 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's electrified guitar strings on his way to the worst cover of "Amazing Grace" ever recorded by a guy who shoulda known better. Robert Wilonsky

 
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